Error activating office 2003

I know what you are thinking after reading the title, but it is what I have to deal with, no other option.

Right.  Today, I’m having problems when trying to activate an office license.  When I tried to do this over the phone, it tells me that activation error at the end, and I will need to speak to one of the customer service operator.  That’s fine, this is not the first time anyway, so I waited for 10 mins… and someone from India pick up the phone.  I explained to him what I want to do, and given him the installation ID, so that he can try at his end.  unfortunately he gets the same problem, and this is where the problem starts.

He starts telling me this is a 10 years old product, it is out of warranty, he cannot help me unless I’m willing to pay $80 for technical support call.  Come on, if I’m willing to $80, I might as well going to get a new copy of office, and he did suggested that.  I tell him that I don’t want a new copy of office and I just need Microsoft to activate my software, I don’t want technical support.  This gentleman starts losing his temper, he starts putting me on hold or not speaking anything (I can hear background talking tho!).

Cut the long story short, deleting a file as shown below

  1. Click Start, click Run, type C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosoftOfficeData, and then click OK.
  2. Right-click the Opa11.dat file, and then click Delete.

    Important Do not delete the opa11.bak file.

  3. Close the folder.
  4. Start an Office 2003 program to start the Office 2003 Activation Wizard.

This works for me, simply as this… doesn’t cost $80, doesn’t need to listen to their rubbish.


Cloning a larger hard drive into a smaller hard drive

I don’t know where I got this idea from, but I always have the impression that I can use imaging software (e.g. Acronis True Image) to clone any size of hard drive to other any size of hard drive, of course, as long as the content has to fit in the destination capacity.  Well, I’m wrong.

Today, I want to upgrade the hard drive on one of the senior staff laptop, he has got a 500GB SATA disk but only used 100GB, so I went to the computer shop, I bought a 250GB SSD disk and happily go back to do the operation.

I ran a full backup of the original hard drive first, just in case any thing goes wrong.  For the operation, I have physically connect the SSD drive via USB.  I started with booting up into Acronis, it detected both hard drive without any issues, I went through all the steps as usual, I used the manual method so that it shrinks the disk size to fit the new capacity (I thought it will 🙁 ), when I begin the process, I failed.  Although everything looks fine, it won’t let me do it.

I tried a few more times and also a few different tools, none of them works.  Go straight onto Uncle Google for doing some researches, surprisingly there are many results came up and found this is actually a known issue.

Cut the long story short, no typical imaging tool will do this job, and I found out this tool from one of the guru friend – Macrium Reflect Free Edition (

It lets you clone the disk partition by partition, but it also let you reduce the disk size as decided.  Compare to Acronis, it actually does reduce the size, not only shows the size changes.  once everything set and completed, I have got the new SSD hard drive working like a champ!!!

Note that, before you run the tools, you must 1) run a full backup of the original hdd.  2) run a checkdisk.  3) run a defragment.  Otherwise there are chances that the reduction might chop the valid data blocks.  So use with CARE!

Reset Password on Windows Server 2008 R2

No sure what was happened, one of the Windows Server cannot be logged in with any domain admins account, YES!  including the local administrator account @_@

Luckily I have came across this article from How-To Geek, and I managed to reset the password and logged back on.  The original article is from

The idea is to replace one of the accessibility tool with the command prompt at the logon screen, like this one.

You boot off the Windows installation disk or recovery cd, and select “Repair your computer” option.

follow through the screen until you see a screen like below

So first, you will need to run a command to backup the original “utilman.exe” file, the command should be like

MOVE C:WindowsSystem32Utilman.exe C:WindowsSystem32Utilman.exe.bak


Secondly, you will then need to make the “cmd.exe” as “Utilman.exe”,

COPY C:WindowsSystem32cmd.exe C:WindowsSystem32Utilman.exe

(Note:  one of the challenge here is to find the correct drive letter for the “Windows” directory, because in my situation the drive letter was on D drive instead C drive.  Therefore you will need to use DIR command to make sure you are working on the correct drive letter.)

Now, if everything goes under the plan, then you can go ahead and reboot your machine.

When you see the logon screen, click on the Ease of access icon , hopefully the command prompt screen is now opened for you 🙂

To change the user password, we will use the normal Windows command, replace username with the user name you need to reset the password for.

net user username *

Once changed, you should be able to log into the machine, yeah!!!

Don’t forget, you need to change back the “Utilman.exe” back to the original one.  Since this is actually an in use file, thus you might not be able to change it back in Windows Explorer.  You may use special tools to overcome this or just simply do the previous steps again to revert the file.

I hope this help.  One last little suggestion, wherever possible, don’t let too many people to have the admin login privileges, especially don’t share one “administrator” account within the team, otherwise it will be difficult to tell who mess it up.


Folder Access Denied for Windows 7 Administrator

Those are junction points : hidden, protected operating system files that are not meant to be accessed by users.
Each one points to a user-accessible folder:

Application Data – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoaming
Cookies – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsCookies
History – C:Users{user name}AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsHistory
Local Settings – C:Users{user name}AppDataLocal
My Documents – C:Users{user name}Documents
NetHood – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsNetwork Shortcuts
PrintHood – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsPrinter Shortcuts
Recent – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsRecent
SendTo – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsSendTo
Start Menu – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart Menu
Templates – C:Users{user name}AppDataRoaming
Temporary Internet Files – C:Users{user name}AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet File

Tips for migrating a physical computer to a virtual machine

The HAL is the ‘Hardware Abstraction Layer’ and is responsible for some of the lowest level access in the system.

You can find out about all the various HALs here:;en-us;309283.

Having the wrong HAL loaded can result in:

  • Blue screens during boot
  • Unrecoverable processor errors
  • Boot simply ‘stalling’ and never finishing

In order to update the HAL you should boot into the recovery console (as described here: ). You should then change directory to the WINDOWSSYSTEM32 directory and run “expand D:I386HALACPI.DL_” followed by “copy HALACPI.DLL HAL.DLL”.

Note – this method is not officially supported by Microsoft – but I have found it to be very handy

Get your network “computer description” back in Windows 7

Unfortunately the comments column isn’t available by default, however there’s a workaround!

Workaround: make a folder somewhere and rename it to “Network.{208d2c60-3aea-1069-a2d7-08002b30309d}” (without quotes).

This folder now shows the contents of the current domain WITH COMMENTS.

Outlook 2003 doesn’t show embedded images

If you have user complaints about their Outlook doesn’t show images, but when you checked all the settings are correct, the hack below might be able to help, at least it works for me.

The story is a network user cannot see images down the signature area, other images are fine.  I have checked all the settings, I still couldn’t find any thing that causes this.  Then I came across this on TechNet, it took me to a forum

The idea is to remove a registry key for Outlook security, and this registry is pointing to a temp folder, possibly the temp folder corrupted?!

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Security. It contains a key called “OutlookSecureTempFolder “. When I deleted that key, all images began to show.

anyway, it worked for my case, and I hope it will work for you too.   (BTW, don’t forget to export the registry before you make any changes!)


Failed to access IIS metabase

Recently reinstall IIS on my computer, since then I didn’t use my localhost websites. however today, I’m finally having problem with the IIS when I tried to open a local website, I got this message below:

Failed to access IIS metabase.
Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.
Exception Details: System.Web.Hosting.HostingEnvironmentException: Failed to access IIS metabase.
The process account used to run ASP.NET must have read access to the IIS metabase (e.g. IIS://servername/W3SVC). For information on modifying metabase permissions, please see

spent half day trying to get my local website to work, and after trying with many things, finally got the answer below.

1. Go into “C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50727”
2. Run “aspnet_regiis -i”

Apparently when install IIS AFTER .NET 2.0 framework, the rights of the ASPNET user had not been set correctly. Running this script will install the set the registry properly.

If you have a similar problem, give this a try.