Monday, 26 September 2016

Reset Windows 7 Administrator account (or any user account) password

Had some fun on Sunday trying to get access to Admin account on Windows 7 laptop. 
I attempted some other methods but what eventually worked for me was a bit of a hack/trick. Replace sethc.exe (sticky keys) with cmd.exe and trigger sticky keys (sticky keys is run as Administrator). This was done through using Notepad.exe which is run to view logfiles after system recovery. Other techniques to get in on command-line as admin with drive mounted didn't work. This trick is at least quite amusing :-) also simple and portable :-D. 
Background: The Administrator password with laptop was not known. There was a user account with admin privs so users didn't find the need of it. UNTIL the windows login page stopped showing their user! We are guessing the User profile became corrupt or had something bad in it.
I attempted a series of procedures before getting the Notepad+sticky keys replace hack to work. For the record here they are (and the problem I encountered with them):
  1. When trying to log in as Administrator after an incorrect password you are prompted to insert rescue disk (in order to reset password). We had a Windows 7 rescue disk on cd. But the prompt asked for floppy or USB. I had no handy USB stick and was too lazy to go shopping and messing with creating USB boot disk.
  2. Using system repair disk to get in on command-line did not allow the replacing of sethc.exe with cmd.exe trick/hack. Or allow resetting admin password 'net use Administrator *'. The command-line was running as admin but not as the real admin on machine more as the system repair admin and the disk did not seem to be mounted with full access . . . ~ not sure ~
  3. Using linux system rescue cd ( (version 4.8.2)) I could not mount the drive. I would kindof see it was a GPT partitioned drive - tools ntfs-3g gparted sfdisk should work with GPT but didn't. This computer has a prompt for username + domain + password before windows starts so not sure but maybe there is some extra security (which is needed to mount drive?)
  4. We looked at recovering the User Profile - editing registry - but . . . 
What eventually DID work was follow system recover sequence (no external/additional cd needed) at end view logfile (opens in Notepad). Then do file open - browse to cmd.exe - copy - paste - overwrite sethc.exe. Then reboot - trigger sticky keys - set password using command-line 'net user Administrator *'.
  1. Shutdown and reboot. When Windows starting is seen hold down the power button and power off.
  2. Power on. Windows boot should report that last Windows start up failed so it will give the option of "Launch startup repair". Choose this option.
  3. Cancel the Startup Repair. Cancel the System Restore.
  4. A report dialog will show reporting repair could not be done. In there expand "View problem details". Under problem details a link to x:/windows/... log file is shown. Click on this.
  5. Notepad.exe opens showing the logfile. This Notepad is running as Administrator and the mounted filesystem x: is your hard disk.
    5.1 Notepad: File - Open - browse to X:/Windows/system32 - scroll to sethc.exe
    5.2 Right-click on sethc.exe and rename to sethc-BACKUP.exe
    5.3 Scroll to cmd.exe. Right-click on cmd.exe. Copy. Right click. Paste.
    5.4. When I pasted cmd.exe the command-line ran (as Administrator) so I did 'cd x:/Windows/system32' and then 'copy cmd.exe sethc.exe' on command-line.
    5.4-1 If you prefer not command-line then just use Notepad File Open browser and make a copy of cmd.exe and rename it to sethc.exe
  6. Reboot without any funny stuff.
  7. At login page hit shift key 5 times or more triggering sticky keys. Instead of sticky keys prompt a command-line dialog appears. Running as Administrator. 'net user Administrator *' to set the password.
Good description with screenshots of the procedure here:

The rsync of old user to new user after successful recover. And a game of blockus :-)

In conclusion, this solution doesn't require you to have any extra boot or repair CD. It is very portable :-) It is pretty simple. So it is probably worth trying as one of the first password recovery methods.
We finished up Sunday with making a new user, failing to copy files from old user -> new user using windows, installing cygwin with rsync, rsyncing from old user -> new user (-avzhP and excluding ntdata files and a few other). Then backing up stuff generally. Took ages (3/4hours?) but successful recover at the end, phew.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Recipe: Mackerel with spinach and apple

Recipe: Mackerel with spinach and apple

As usual winging it in the kitchen. Successful and tasty soup and fish for tea today.
The selection of ingredients depends often on what is there, what needs to be used.

Apple baked with the mackerel was a nice combination. James & Fionnuala and the girls liked it alot.

    2 plums
    2-3 tomatoes
    4 mushrooms (optional but good especially if you have a wife who loves them!)
    half a red onion
    mackerel - 3 fillets (Aldi's best)
    apple - tart(as in a bit sour) (my Mum and Dad brought some up from Cobh this Monday)
    spinach - we got a bag with the organic fruit & veg box
    oil, salt, pepper
    squeeze of lemon

   Turn on oven ~190 degrees.
   De-stone and slice plums, slice tomatoes, slice & dice onion, remove stalk from mushrooms.
   Put those in pyrex baking dish (some oil in first) and mix and put in oven.
   Shred/Chop some spinach - add spinach to dish in oven and mix in.
      (this was done a while after the rest baked a bit as I was making soup @ the same time).
   Add a small amount of lemon juice to dish in oven.
   Stir the dish in oven once or twice.
   Keep 3 large spinach leaves aside for the fish.

   Slice apple into wedges (quarter the apple, remove core/pips, slice).
   Take fish out of packet, rinse.
   Lay fish on a dish(I had it in a jug), season, put on oil, put apple on top.
   Squeeze on a small amount of lemon juice.
   13 mins to serving time put on the fish:
       Lay each fillet on a spinach leaf and lay wedges of apple on top.
       Lay side by side on top of the dish in oven.

   The apple stuck to top of mackerel and spinach stuck under.
   The spinach+fish+apple were easy to lift off and put on plate.
   Serve the mix underneath beside the fish.

We had soup with fish (and for he who didn't fancy fish):

Soup with 3 potatoes diced, half a butternut squash (deseeded but with skin) diced, 1 leek, 2 small carrots diced, some turmeric (the real root - small slices), grated ginger, chopped spinach, a black chilli pepper, a jug of vegetable broth(or stock), water, seasoning (salt, pepper, curry powder)
In that order (more or less) add ingredients and fry with oil first. Stirring frequently. If taking too long dicing and there is danger of burning then add some broth. You want to fry/broil the hard veg for a bit. I had broth from cooking potatoes + carrot + onion earlier in day. Add enough water at end to give a nice soup consistency not too thick. Spinach was added at end after heat was turned off.
After all cooked then buzz to smooth.

Serve with toast & butter.

Earlier on we had mash potato with black pudding, brocolli and eggs. (and some beans)

Mashed potato.
Potatoes roughly chopped. Carrot diced. Onion diced.
Boil potatoes with a small amount of salt in water. (some brine from an olive jar does nicely)
Add carrot and onion.
When potatoes  cooked (not soft/disentegrating) drain.
Keep the broth for making soup later.
Add some butter and a splash on milk.

Serve with black pudding, egg, brocolli stalk and head fried with turmeric.