Windows 10 no status in WSUS after KB4056892 [EN]

Short post this time. After all the mess that happened after the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities disclosure and a frenzy of patching (i think Microsoft has released updates 5-6 times in January) a few machines in our network have stopped updating their status in WSUS. Although, they were still able to check for updates. It happened after a failed installation of KB4056892 update. Which then installed correctly, but since then no status updates were sent. The solution is as per usual: stop the Windows Update service, wipe C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder, start the service and run the check for updates.

Blog annual stats (v2017) [EN]

Same as last year putting here a bit of stats about my blog.

  • Posted 139 entries (+61 compared to last year):
    • Technology – 74 (+55, mainly because i started covering every Windows 10 Insider build and Office 365);
    • Board Games – 53 (+10, this combines both news and reviews and a few other posts);
    • Board Games News – 27;
    • Next Game – 16 (+2);
    • Movies – 8 (-4, i have slowed down on watching lots of movies during spring festival);
    • Top 10 – 4 (-6; ran out of ideas);
    • TV series – 2 (new category);
    • Books – 1 (-, i still read 3-4 books per year, but not always post about them 🙂 );
    • General – 1 (-2, i guess i’m getting more focused);
    • Artwork – 0 (-2, drawing less, posting them even less often);
    • Live Session – 0 (-2, having less big gaming events);
    • Yes-No – 0 (-5, ran out of ideas and interest to do such posts, for now).
  • Received 12 comments (not counting my replies this time 🙂 +10, mainly because someone mentioned one of my posts on some mailing list).

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Top 10 Best games (v2017) [EN]

As usual as the year comes to an end i present a renewed list of my all time favorite games. Though Top 10 hasn’t changed that much, but the list of played games grows every year. This time i gave a try to Pub Meeple’s board games rating system. Which shows you a few games from your list and you have to pick which of two is your favorite and it slowly builds your list this way. This year there was 91 game on the list. Maybe next year i will be able to do Top 100 🙂

10. Santiago de Cuba (new) – i’ve been playing this game for maybe 5 years, but only recently i started to appreciate it more, so it managed for the first time get to Top 10. Simple euro style game, in which you constantly have to decide whether to benefit you or harm your opponent 🙂

9. Cacao (+1) – last year it has dropped one step and now it is back to 9th place. Mostly because of new expansions that have appeared in Yucata. Which was a refreshing wind for this simple, but pleasant euro game.

8. Guildhall (new) – new game i have experienced this year and already managed to get its spot in Top 10. Unique and interesting card game with some interaction and often unexpected ending.

7. Carcassonne (-3) – an old classic on my list, dropped a bit as i haven’t played it that much this year. But i remember the last play of it, when i managed to steal a win with a huge farms score 🙂

6. Ticket to Ride (-) – the thing that it hasn’t changed it spot only shows that this game will always has a place in my collection and will be high on the list. One of the best “gateway” games to introduce new players to the hobby and lure them into modern board gaming world.

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Best new games (v2017) [EN]

I have changed the title as this year i wasn’t able to try out enough games. But i won’t change the picture because of that 🙂 Still, i have tried out 7 new games, which is still a lot for not a very active gamer. Again, this is just new to me games i have tried this year. Not necessary released during 2017, though there are 2 such games on the list. Here we go.

7. Imhotep – wanted to try this games since it was nominated for Spiel des Jahres awards. But it didn’t live up to my expectations. There is little room for strategy and planning ahead and too much depends on luck.

6. Cat Box – one of a few Kickstarters i have backed. Cute little game. A bit too simplistic, but beautiful art makes it popular among my female friends. This has become the most popular game lended from me 🙂

5. Legendary Inventors – haven’t tried it enough times to review it, but it is a pleasant resource allocation, engine building game. Although it is a very simple game, i would still remove one part from it (runs of numbers) to make it even more polished and streamlined.

4. Jump Drive – one of my most favorite games, Race for the Galaxy, is a bit overwhelming for new gamers with all the actions and various icons. Jump Drive is a simplified version of an older game, but also unique on its own. Quick, simple engine building game which also scratches itch to play its bigger brother.

3. Avenue – my first Roll and Write game (well, in this one cards replaced dice). I wanted something similar for family nights as it is very simple and reminds bingo games that are popular here. But this has more choices, which makes it actually a game. Very simple, but takes almost no space, very fast and has that pleasant tactile feeling of drawing paths on a paper. Also, clever scoring system.

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Dealing with Windows 10 feature updates via WSUS [EN]

Based on a few last updates in this post i had to adjust my Windows 10 management via WSUS. It will involve manual checking and fixing, so if one has thousands of clients – tough luck. It is possible to make a script to do everything. A complex, error prone and hard to test. I don’t want to end up with some PCs running with WU service disabled for a prolonged period of time. If someone can come up with a sophisticated script for this (possible to do everything on a single run during a startup, with pauses, etc.) feel free to share, though sometimes it just doesn’t allow to delete SoftwareDistribution folder after stopping WU service and you must to reboot the system or even disable WU and then reboot. What other options there are? SCCM uses the same method and i think i’ve read comments about people having similar problems. Not to mention it costs a lot. Intune won’t let you manage updates the way WSUS does. It is just a set of policies you apply to your PCs. Just like Windows Update for Business. You set how and what updates should it get and hope it is working. There is no GUI or a list of PCs to see if they are updating or not. In the world of WannaCry outbreaks it is crucial to have a tool to make sure your network is updated. WSUS is outdated and has its own flaws, but it was working fine until Windows 10 came. Microsoft needs to do something about it. Read More

Office 365 – The case of an incomplete chain [EN]

We have migrated to Office 365 and Exchange Online a while ago. It was working fine on our mobile phones (email, Skype for Business, etc.). But a few months ago we had to update SSL certificate on our website, which is the same domain name we use for our email. Its DNS also hosts a few Office 365 related records. And after updating certificate to a new one problems started appearing on mobile. Already setup clients were fine. But adding fresh Exchange account on a new phone resulted in weird SSL errors. Sometimes it somehow magically worked, but most of the time it was showing a warning for less than a second and then an error. That’s on Android. iOS simply showed an error that it can’t check the cert and that’s it. Skype for Business was also showing a warning, but at least there was a checkbox to accept it anyway. I was puzzled as website was working fine in browsers, no complains about it being not trusted. OWA and Outlook on PC also worked fine. This time we have purchased a wildcard certificate, so i thought maybe this is related. Lastly i had an idea, that maybe our certificate is new and phones don’t have some intermediate certificate to be able to check it. Although updating phones to latest updates didn’t help. I was going to file a support request with Microsoft. Until..

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Next game – Balloon Cup [EN]

Playing this game over 5 years now and i still don’t get bored of it. It’s one of the first games i have tried on Yucata. Some players blame it for being to dependent on luck of card draw. I agree partially, but i think the game has enough mechanisms to balance it out. There are always 4 locations to place your cards. If you don’t have the right card tight now, you can always play a weaker card somewhere, where it won’t mean much, won’t give too much to an opponent. There is enough space for tactics in this game. Which cards to keep for later, when to play your best card and when a medium card is enough to claim a spot. When you play this game for a long time, you start to see every minor aspects of it. You feel when it is better to skip the spot with 4 cubes and better take 3 cubes. when you don’t have goo play, give your opponent one cube spot and hope you will have better chance on an additional turn. The game is very simple mechanically and therefore attractive to new players, couples. There are 4 locations with cubes and you play cards with numbers on your or opponent’s side trying to get more in total (or less, depending on requirement). At the same time you are racing to get enough cubes of a particular color to claim cups which give you points to win the game. There are some aspects of the game though i have only learned after a few years of playing it. Such as a possibility to change cubes of a not needed color to one of needed one. Yucata’s implementation is clean and simple, although maybe lacking some visual cues about some rules (such as mentioned option to swap cubes for another cube). My rating for this game is 8/10.

Office 365 – Skype for Business can’t work without Password sync [EN]

As Azure AD Connect version 1.1.647.0 has been released recently, it was mentioned in the release notes, that before that version it was erroneously leaving Password synchronization enabled in Configure synchronization options window, if admin had enabled Passthrough autenthication in Change user sign in window. PTA (Passthrough authentication) means, that instead of regularly syncing hashes of passwords hashes from your local AD to Azure AD for your users able to authenticate to Office 365 apps and services, upon a user trying to authenticate, it would instead send a request to AD Connect, which will query your local AD and compare the hashes. So, in that case no passwords (or hashes of hashes of passwords as MS advertises) are stored outside of your network in the cloud. This lets you avoid complex setup of ADFS and have same functionality with a simple AD Connect service. In theory..

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WSUS – Windows 10 Fall Creators Update quirks [EN]

After posting about my experience updating Windows 10 to Creators Update via WSUS earlier this year i thought updating to Fall Creators Update should be a breeze. Well, not exactly. There are some issues and quirks i had to deal with.

First of all, our WSUS has successfully pulled Fall Creators Update (1709 version) from Microsoft servers sometime around October 17 and started reporting Needed status for Windows 10 PCs in our network. So i went and declined an upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 machines as we are not doing such upgrades. And then approved en_us and en_gb updates for a special group, which i will be putting PCs in to update. We have two versions as there are a few computers in the network using en_gb version (that was a mistake, but now we don’t really want to reinstall them; i wish there were only one EN version..). Then i have added a few testing PCs to that group. When doing Check for updates it pulled the update from WSUS and started preparing it for installation. While PC was showing “Preparing” status, WSUS was showing Failed status for this machine (quirk No.1, but very minor one). After the update installation it still shows Needed status for some time, until it gets new info from PCs. Once PC has prepared Fall Creators Update (FCU or 1709) it shows a popup as shown above. It is different from what was shown last time and this popup is the usual Action Center popup. Although i would like not to have human faces in there as i have to prepare instructions with screenshots and this looks weird. Quirks No.2 and 3 – pressing Restart Now in this popup did nothing on one of my testing machines. I have waited 5 minutes, tried pressing it again, restarting the machine and pressing again. Nothing. The second PC haven’t even showed it at all for some reason. One should hope MS will fix this for the next update (actually, it should be fixed in the FCU already for it to work for the next update). So, i had to use Start > Power button > Update and Restart. This worked fine and FCU install went smoothly on both machines. It took around 10-15 minutes until seeing your desktop (with multiple reboots and waiting for it to finish once you login). As MS is now doing updates with only differences, not overwriting the whole system, it takes almost 2 times less time. This is great.

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Next game – Imhotep [EN]

Wanted to try this game since it was nominated for the Essen Spiel awards. I also like some of the other designer’s Phil Walker-Harding games (Sushi Go!, Cacao). First suspicion appeared after watching people playing it on video. Recently this game has been added to Yucata library, so i rushed to try it out. And, sadly, confirmed my doubts. Although the game has some interesting mechanisms, as when players in order put cubes on boats and then one of the players decide where to sail one boat. Although every points generating board has two sides and provides some replay value. And the game is oriented to families based on its weight. All in all it lacks long term strategy planning and even ability to have some short term tactic. Because there is very little control of what is happening every turn. It is hard to explain with words. This is better seen when playing it. Say you want to add a few cubes in a row to one scoring board. You put one cube on some boat, but on the other player’s turn anything can happen. He may add his cube right after yours or sail the boat or anything else. There are special cards that lets you play around this a bit, but to get them you have to spend cubes and sail a boat to the place with them and someone can beat you to that and sail the boat first to gain the right to pick cards first. Although many games doesn’t have an absolute control, this one has too little of it for my liking. I have only played it with two players, but i somehow feel it should be even more chaotic with more players. Maybe this game is better suited for family play evenings or playing during a party not paying attention to strategy or tactics. But this is not what i like in games usually. 6/10