Create Popular Windows Desktop Shortcuts for All Users

Create public shortcuts to make everyone’s life easier.

When installing software on Microsoft Windows server operating systems like Microsoft Windows Server 2008, I like to create a small number of frequently used programs and folders such as the ODBC DSN panels (see related article, More Fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC) as desktop shortcuts.  By default, these shortcuts are placed on my personal desktop, stored in a folder like C:Users\<username>\Desktop. But you can share these desktop shortcuts with your fellow administrators by using Windows Explorer to copy the shortcuts from your personal desktop to the public desktop, which is located at C:\Users\Public\Desktop. The public desktop is a hidden folder, so you’ll want to show hidden folders in your Windows Explorer.  Choose Organize from the Windows Explorer menu, then Folder and search options. Choose “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” from the “Hidden files and folders” option on the View tab, as shown below.

Microsoft Windows Show Hidden Files Folders and Drives

Don’t go overboard with too many shortcuts and annoy your coworkers, but here are some suggestions:

  • 32-bit ODBC DSN Panel
  • 64-bit ODBC DSN Panel
  • Tomcat Configuration
  • SAP BusinessObjects Central Configuration Manager (CCM)
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI Launchpad
  • SAP BusinessObjects Central Management Console
  • SAP BusinessObjects File Repository Server folders, if on remote server

What kinds of Microsoft Windows tricks do you use to make administering SAP BusinessObjects easier?

How to Find Microsoft Windows Uptime?

Unix and Linux users can easily determine the uptime of their system by entering the command who -b.  Microsoft Windows users can determine their system uptime by following Microsoft KB article 555737.

  1. From the Windows command bar, choose “Start” -> “Run”.
  2. Type “CMD” and press “Enter” key. A DOS-style command window will appear.
  3. From the command window, enter the command net statistics server or net stats srv at the prompt and press “Enter” key.
  4. Look for the line that start with “Statistics since …”, which provides the time the server was last booted.

Definitely an article worth bookmarking.

First Impressions of Microsoft Windows 8

I just don’t “get” Microsoft Windows 8.

Last October, I rushed out to the Castleton Best Buy in Indianapolis during Windows 8 launch weekend to snag a copy of Microsoft Windows 8 Professional.  My experience confirms the troubles that both Best Buy and Microsoft are having.

The Purchase

I walked directly to the computer department and was greeted by a pleasant Best Buy employee who looked dazed and confused when I asked about Windows 8.  He walked me over to the software department, where there was a large display of empty Windows 8 boxes. Still puzzled, he asked several of his coworkers where the Windows 8 software was located. After several minutes of confusion, they told me to go to the customer service desk, where the real Windows 8 software boxes were locked into “the cage”. Although all of the Best Buy staff were friendly and the initial employee stayed with me until I found what I needed, I found it curious that they apparently did not have any kind of team meeting in anticipation of the Windows 8 launch.

The Installation

When I got the software home, I found the installation process to be quick and painless on my one-year-old Dell Inspiron N5010, an inexpensive Intel Core i3 laptop that I upgraded to 8 GB RAM. I opted to keep all of my existing applications, although I may yet do a total reinstall to clear up some ongoing DLL issues left over from Windows 7.

Installing Windows 8

Mission accomplished!



The Windows 8 Experience

I must say that after a few months of casual use, I’m still confused by Windows 8.  I just don’t get it. My Dell Inspiron N5010 does not have a touchscreen, but I doubt that having one would change my perceptions. Although a Core i3 hardly qualifies as a workhorse, I’m very disappointed by the overall system performance compared to Windows 7. And I’m disappointed by leading technology columnists like Walt Mossberg making excuses if you’re PC is over a year old (see his Wall Street Journal article, Windows 8: Not for Old-at-Heart PCs). It seems that the mainstream technology press is going out of its way to say nice things about Windows 8 and reluctant to offend anyone at Microsoft. Apple would be crucified if they shipped a MacOS that didn’t work well on “older” Macs.

Brian Boyko, a professional writer & corporate filmmaker, has created a 24-minute video about Microsoft Windows 8 that’s worth your time. His core theme is “Windows 8 is unusable” and he reviews the new operating system with humor and a few naughty words. He analyzes the Windows 8 using four key user interface themes of control, conveyance, continuity and context.

[ youtube ]

Jean-Louis Gassée asks an insightful question on Monday Note (see Apple Can Finish What Microsoft’s Sinofsky Started).

Was it Ballmer’s idea or Sinofsky’s?

After being quite impressed with Windows 7, I can’t help but think that Windows 8 is the son of Microsoft Vista. I predict that we’ll see a Windows 8.5 or Windows 9 released later in 2013 that attempts to perform damage control. Before Apple pulls John Hodgman and Justin Long out of retirement.

UPDATE: There will be no Windows 8.5 or Windows 9 but instead Windows 10 will be released sometime in 2015.

Want another perspective? Read SAP Mentor Derek Loranca’s article, Windows 8 Impressions… and why I went back to Windows 7.

UPDATE (10/03/2014): Updated with Windows 10, the version of Windows that will follow Windows 8.1.

What are your thoughts about Microsoft Windows 8?

The Fun Never Ends with 64-bit Windows and ODBC

Still making fun of the Microsoft Windows ODBC panel.

The new Information Design Tool (IDT) in SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0, like the other client tools in the suite, is a 32-bit application. Even if the IDT is installed on a 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows, it wants to use 32-bit ODBC DSN’s created with the 32-bit ODBC panel, not 64-bit DSN’s. If you attempt to create a new universe connection and specify a 64-bit DSN name, the following error appears.

[Microsoft][ODBC Driver Manager] The specified DSN contains an architecture mismatch between the Driver and Application

To resolve the issue, make sure you’re using the 32-bit ODBC panel (see related article) at C:WindowsSysWoW64Odbcad32.exe. If you are running the client tools and server on the same platform, create a 32-bit ODBC DSN for the Information Design Tool and a 64-bit ODBC DSN for the server (BI Launchpad, Web Intelligence Processing Server, etc.). Make sure both DSN’s have identical names.

Remember that Crystal Reports 2011, Crystal Reports 2013, and Crystal Reports for Enterprise clients are also 32-bit. If they are installed on the BI4 server (which is supported, but oddly enough not recommended), they will also require 32-bit ODBC connections even though the Crystal Reports Processing Server requires 64-bit ODBC connections. Note that the legacy Crystal Reports 2011/2013 Processing Server will also require 32-bit ODBC connections.

Having fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC?  You may find my other articles on ODBC helpful.

Microsoft Manual of Style, 4th Edition

As an IT consultant, conference speaker, and blogger, I have found the recently updated Microsoft Manual of Style to be indispensable.

As an IT consultant, conference speaker, and blogger, I have found the recently updated Microsoft Manual of Style to be indispensable. Although not a full-time writer, I spend a great deal of time creating project documentation, training manuals, and short articles. Because I’m an engineer by training and not an English major, a guide written by Microsoft is much more helpful to me than a generic style guide such as the Chicago Manual of Style, since the latter is written for non-technical journalists.

This manual is well-balanced between technical issues and writing issues. On the technical side, the book deals with writing content for the web and how to properly refer to visual elements in Microsoft operating systems (including mobile). On the writing side, the book deals with writing for a worldwide audience (helpful, as 50% of my blog readers are outside the United States), punctuation, and voice. The authors present examples in “Microsoft Style” and “Not Microsoft Style”, allowing the reader to see style concepts in actual usage. Microsoft® Manual of Style is also available in several electronic formats including Amazon Kindle format, Barnes and Noble Nook format, ePub, Mobi and Adobe PDF (the latter three from O’Reilly’s web site), making it easy to take anywhere.

Thanks to O’Reilly Media for providing an e-book review copy of this book as part of the O’Reilly Reader Reviews Program.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Microsoft hates Google, therefore it posts a funny commercial on Google YouTube. Hmmm…

I’m working with my first large customer that uses corporate Google apps like Gmail instead of the ubiquitous Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, so I found this Microsoft ad (ironically on Google’s YouTube) particularly funny.  Thanks to John Gruber for mentioning it on Daring Fireball.

The caption is pretty striking.

What happens when the world’s largest advertising business tries to sell productivity software on the side?

I don’t remember Microsoft singling out a competitor so boldly. Perhaps its because we’re so used to Microsoft dominating (some might say monopolizing) operating systems, office productivity software, and web browsers. Of course, it’s struggling with internet search and mobile operating systems.

Probably my biggest peeve with Google apps is that they sometimes do not play nicely with Microsoft Internet Explorer, the “corporate standard” of browsing. Google Calendar seems to give me the most grief. It should come as no surprise that the apps work perfectly in Google Chrome.

This ad inspired me to do a quick check on Netflix for Moonlighting reruns. But alas, Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis are only on DVD, not streaming video. Pity.

Love the necktie, though.

Gmail Man is also pretty good.

How can you not appreciate a line like “got his nose in every colon” set to music?

What is your impression of Google apps? And of Microsoft’s cheeky advertisements?

Still Having Fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC

Copying ODBC DSN’s from XI 3.1 to BI4 need not be a tedious chore.

I’m still having fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC. This time, I’m working with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 SP2 Patch 10 (BI4) instead of my previous exploits with SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 (see related article, More Fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC). My challenge was to easily copy ODBC DSN’s from a customer’s existing XI 3.1 environment to their new BI4 environment without hours of tedious typing in the Windows control panel.

The procedure is simple enough, as ODBC DSN’s are stored in the Microsoft Windows registry. Simply use the registry editor on the source machine to export the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC tree. Move the generated registry file to the destination machine and load using the registry editor. But when moving between 32-bit Windows and 64-bit Windows, there’s a small catch.

In 64-bit Windows, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC is where the 64-bit DSN’s are stored. 32-bit DSN’s are stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ODBC.  This means that the 32-bit DSN’s that you import from the 32-bit XI 3.1  server automatically become 64-bit DSN’s on the BI4 server by virtue of their registry location.

SAP BusinessObjects BI4 is primarily 64-bit, so most services like the Web Intelligence Processing Server will be looking for 64-bit DSN’s. However, classic Crystal Reports 2011/2013/2016 are 32-bit (even on the BI4 server), so it will look for DSN’s in the second Wow6432Node. I ended up creating these 32-bit DSN’s manually using the ODBC panel on our BI4 staging server (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects BI4 is (Mostly) 64-bit).

However, once I have both 32-bit and 64-bit DSN’s created on the staging server, I can move them easily to other 64-bit Windows machines.  I just have to remember to export both the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ODBC keys.

TIP: Remember that each set of DSN’s has its own control panel.  To avoid going insane during testing, take a moment to create separate desktop shortcuts to the 32-bit and 64-bit ODBC DSN panels on your 64-bit Windows server (see related article, More Fun with 64-bit Windows and ODBC).

Related Articles

For more information, check out this related thread on the BusinessObjects Board (BOB).

Adding Central Configuration Manager (CCM) to Windows Server Startup Folder

A simple but useful trick.

One of the first things I like to do after installing SAP BusinessObjects is copy the Central Configuration Manager (CCM) shortcut to the Microsoft Windows Start Menu startup folder.  Most SAP BusinessObjects administration is handled from the browser-based Central Management Console (CMC). But when I bother to actually log directly into the Windows server, the CCM is generally the first thing I want to check.  Adding it to the startup folder to automatically launch saves me some time.

Central Configuration Manager XI 3.1
Windows 7 and Windows 2008 handle the start menu differently than their predecessors (see related post Windows 7/Windows 2008 Start Menu), so here is the procedure.

First, navigate to the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\SAP BusinessObjects BI platform 4.0\SAP BusinessObjects BI platformdirectory and copy the Central Configuration Manager shortcut to the Windows clipboard.  The ProgramData folder is hidden, so you’ll want to set Windows Explorer options to show hidden files and folders.

Next, paste the shortcut in the adjacent C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup folder.

The Central Configuration Manager (CCM) will now start automatically when you log into the server using Remote Desktop.

Browser Envy, Revisited

Support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 is a key priority for many SAP BusinessObjects customers.

Microsoft IE 9 Logo

At last week’s ASUG SAP BusinessObjects Influencer Summit, support for Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 9 was one of the top priorities of SAP BusinessObjects influencers.  I’ve shared my thoughts on the SAP Community Network (see article here).

How is delayed support of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 affecting your organization?

Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 Start Menu

Where are the shortcuts on the Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 Start Menu located?

It seems like I have to look for this every few months and can never remember the answer I found the previous time.  Where are the shortcuts on the Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 Start Menu located?

All Users
C:\ProgramData\MicrosoftWindows\Start Menu

Personal Start Menu
C:Users<myUserid>AppDataRoamingMicrosoftStart Menu

Anyone know why Wordpad has a shortcut under C:\ProgramData\MicrosoftWindows\Start Menu but Notepad has a shortcut for each user under C:Users<myUserid>AppDataRoamingMicrosoftStart Menu?