Tuesday 19 March 2013

0x8024402c the proxy server or target server names can't be resolved with Microsoft Security Essentials

I found the above error on a Windows XP machine, when trying to update the virus definitions.

I checked the Internet Explorer proxy settings - automatically determine was not checked, and there was no proxy setting.

I also ran proxycfg -d, just to make sure.

This still didn't fix it.

In the end, I ran wireshark during the update attempt. I discovered that, despite the proxy settings being turned off, MSE was still querying the dns for host name wpad, and downloading the proxy setting script from http://wpad/wpad.dat.

Which would have been fine, except that I had a stray CNAME record for wpad in my local DNS, that pointed to my local webserver, that had a stray wpad.dat file in it, which set the proxy to a machine that no longer exists!

What was worse, the stray entry only existed in one of the two DNS servers on my network, so the problem was intermittent, depending on which DNS server Windows used for the query.

Once I deleted the stray DNS entry, and removed the wpad.dat file from my web server, it all started working.

The moral of the story is, if you experience the same problem, try typing http://wpad/wpad.dat into your web browser, and see if you get a file. If you do, open it with a text editor, and it will show you what proxy settings MSE will decide to use (even if you have told it not to)!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Windows Vista Media Centre Program Guide disappeared on 1 Jan 2013

I have had a Windows Media Centre almost since they were first invented. When I bought it, it ran Windows XP, but I "upgraded" it to Vista when Vista came out. (Although Vista had many problems, the Media Centre part was better than the XP version.)

On 1st Jan 2013, the program guide suddenly stopped working. It claimed it had downloaded the guide, but every program had "No data available" on it.

After some research on the 'Net, I discovered that the UK TV guide was downloaded from Broadcasting Data Services, and that Microsoft's agreement with them appeared to expire on 31 December 2012!

I spent a whole day investigating what to do about this. Microsoft were no help at all. I considered upgrading to Windows 8, but the Microsoft free offer of a Media Centre registration key via email doesn't work (at least, I had no reply to the request I sent a week ago).

The only obvious solution I found on the net was to use a separate program to extract the guide information from the broadcast EPG, and put it into Media Centre. To that end, I installed a program called EPG Collector from SourceForge, installed it, and got it working. Except that it couldn't put the data into Media Centre, with the error message "Could not load file or assembly 'mcepg, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35'".

Further research, and a posting to the relevant forum, suggested I install something called the Microsoft TV Pack, an upgrade to Media Centre - this does not seem to be available from Microsoft, but I found it at http://digiex.net/guides-reviews/guides-tutorials/media-guides/699-windows-media-center-tv-pack-2008-download-installation-guide.html. I downloaded it, and the PlayReady PC Runtime (also from Microsoft, and linked from the same page), and installed them both.

I restarted the PC, and Media Centre - all my TV settings had gone! (This is normal, I think, as TV Pack is a major upgrade.) I went into the option to set up TV, and it appeared to hang at the point where it should have downloaded the guide. I panicked, and did some more research - others had the same problem, but none of their solutions seemed to work. So I started it again, and left it overnight.

In the morning, success! It had probably abandoned the download, and continued - it had scanned the available TV channels, and I was able to proceed (after another delay while it tried to download guide information again).

I then laboriously went through all the channels (some of which had got guide information from somewhere, and some hadn't). I pressed the "i" button while the cursor was on a channel name in the guide, and chose "Edit Channel" (this is a new option, which only appears after you have installed TV Pack). This gave me the option to renumber the channel (for some reason Al Jazeera had joined BBC2 on channel 2!), and to set up listings for the channel. In most cases, there was an option to "Use listings from broadcaster" - which I assume gets the listings from the broadcast signal, just as a Freeview TV would. There were a few obscure channels where this was not an option, but I left those alone (I wasn't interested in any of them, and most had too weak a signal to actually get a picture).

I now have a full guide, and I am hoping I will not need to use EPG Collector after all. I have lost all my series recording settings, but they were about due for a clear out anyway.