Thursday, February 28, 2013

PsExec Automated Installs

My first tech related post is going to be about the Sysinternals utility, PsExec. This is a pretty common utility that most Windows techies know about. PsExec has been around for some time, but I still feel it hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves. 

For those of you not familliar with the Windows Sysinternals I implore you to visit their site before reading further, you'll thank me. If you are familiar, keep reading. 

My Reasons

I have used automation programs that cost a pretty penny. The ones I have experience with:

Symantec Ghost (a distant memory, lol)

Altiris Deployment Solution 6.9 with Inventory Solution (afterward we purchased 7.1)

Altiris Client Management Suite
7.1 (currently in use)

Sure, these are great utilities are for client, server, and image management and deployment, and I don't have any problem with that. I've had my fair share of times when I was in a pinch and they saved my skin. But a flaw with them and any such program is that they are all dependent on an installed service, open port(s), a certain .NET framework or other package, user permissions, or a combination of these. All PsExec needs is an enabled administrative share, e.g. \\computername\C$ and a network connection.

How I Use PsExec


In a nutshell PsExec is a utility that takes control of remote machines' command line. In fact, one of the most prized attributes of the program is that it can do so and run the process under the all-powerful SYSTEM account. If you still are doubtful of it's power then consider this, the SYSTEM account in Windows has the same privileges as root in Linux. In the release of Windows 7 Microsoft limited the local Administrator accounts' privileges even further. With PsExec you can take control of your command-line and you can do it remotely.

Here is a PsExec list script (syntax and examples) to query for logged-on users before restarting their machines in a thawed state with Faronics Deep Freeze

@echo off
psexec @Query.txt -s -high cmd /c query user /server
echo ****If PSExec worked you will see the currently logged on users****
echo ****If PSExec could not find the computer it is not powered on****
pause > nul
Set /P Restart=Would you like to restart? Y or N
 if /I "%Restart%"=="Y" goto restart
Yes, I know it's messy. I normally don't have much time to create my scripts so feel free to edit it and post it back in the comments

I made this in response to the Altiris Client Management 7.1s' poor agent update time. So, the Altiris agent reported that no one was logged-on when there were logged-on users. That led to restarting computers to update them and the users losing their work (whoops!). Although the agent check-in time is configurable, I decided not to use unnecessary amounts of network and server resources (our LAN is very limited) and created a script instead

I have dozens of other PsExec scripts to perform a variety of tasks: silent application installation, OS customization, application and computer serial inventory, even remote imaging with a PE installation and imagex.exe! Although management software is designed to do all of these things it can be unreliable and can hog both client and server resources, not to mention the cost.

Thanks for reading, I'll be posting a few more scripts I have made with PsExec  before moving to my next topic.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Cut to Clear Glassware

Cut to clear glassware is glass with an overlay of colored glass.  The overlay is cut to reveal the clear glass, hence the name.  There are two forms of cut to clear glass: cased (overlay), and flashed (stained).  Cased glass is a layer of colored glass blown onto an often molded primary layer of glass, this creates a thick layer of colored glass.  Flashed glass has a very thin layer of glass over the base glass.  Flashed glass is a cost effective alternative to cased glass, however after many years of using this glass the thin outer layer of glass can become scratched and damaged.  Flashed glass also cannot be cut in high relief (deep cuts pictured below on left), normally flashed glass is seen etched (a process using acid to etch the surface of the glass creating a satin finish pictured below on right).  Bohemian glass (pictured below in both cased and flashed) is an intricately etched or cut glass originating in Bohemia, Czech Republic.  Bohemian glass can be found in both cased and flashed forms.
Cut to clear glass can be highly collectable depending on the maker, place of origin, and/or quality and clarity of the glass.  Many pieces are marked with their makers mark (trade mark) etched into the glass (usually on the bottom) or a paper label and can be identified.  Unfortunately most cut to clear glass is not marked and paper labels tend to fall off or be washed off so the glass must be identified according to the characteristics of the glass.  I myself have a few nice pieces from the early 18th century.  So there you have it cut to clear glass!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Netsuke

After a nice break I have thought of the perfect topic: the netsuke. Netsuke are relief carved miniature figures previously used in Japan.  The Japanese used boxes (inro) supported by a string,  to carry their items in.  The string was held under a belt and the netsuke was placed at the end of the string above the belt.

An example of a traditionally worn inro and netsuke

Ball-shaped netsuke made of ivory
 The netsuke figures range from simple to highly detailed.  I have seen quite a few in the years I worked in antiques.  The netsuke depicting an old man with a staff was my favorite.  Unfortunately it was out of my price range (over $500). Most often the netsuke are made of ivory, bone, or resin.  Sometimes this is not the case, there are plenty of other netsuke that are made of stone, wood, and other materials. The subject matter ranges from nude women to dragons and other mythological creatures.  Impeccable detail is what sets these beautiful creations away from many other types of small figures.
Detailed netsuke with conch

I did not cover all the details of the netsuke (oriental antiques are not my specialty) but if you are interested here is link to read more about them.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I have always admired paperweights and art glass.  Luckily when working at an antiques auction house we came upon quite a few collections of art glass, but not so many paperweights.  Therefore I started my own collection of paperweights.  In my opinion the best quality paperweight with the most intricate designs were made at the Perthshire Paperweight company in Perthshire, Scotland (to be specific they are made in Crieff, Scotland, a town inside Perthshire County).   My former employer at the antiques store vacationed down the street from the manufacturer.  He said he never knew until he returned to the US and the company went out of business. He still kicks himself to this day.  Today Perthshire paperweights are amongst the most valuable paperweights to this day. How about a few pictures so you know what I mean.

Photo from

This is a good example of how Perthshire put a "P" as a signature in many of their paperweights.  Genuine Perthshire paperweights have a sticker with the company name and logo.

Photo from

As you can see these paperweights are not cheaply made.  The glassmakers were very precise when designing these weights.  Most of these have the millefiori caning patterns or they may have a overall shape or theme.  On that note I will switch up to discussing art glass.

Art glass is an umbrella term that describes elaborate glass usually used for decoration.  This aesthetic glass usually has no intended functionality (e.g. s & p, sugar, creamer). Here is a good example of what art glass is:

Notice the bubbles in the glass, they are obviously there intentionally for looks.  The curvature of the lip of the bowl is also a characteristic of art glass. Often times pieces like this are placed on a coffee table or side table and used as a snack/candy bowl.  If you are interested in purchasing any piece I would check out Ebay or Amazon. Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enter the Shooting Stick

I don't have much time to post stuff so this one will be short. Many of you may be familiar with this kind of shooting stick:

But have you ever seen one of these?
This is a form of walking stick used as a portable seat. Here is an example of someone sitting in one.
Update: I forgot to add that this was normally used to watch sports, it is also an older concept.  I am not sure if this was invented before the turn of the century but I have seen a few vintage ones.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Antique Glass Guide

I wrote this guide a while back when I was in high school to post on ebay for fellow enthusiasts. Enjoy!

 Antique is a hard word to define but I, and many others, define it as anything made 100 or more years ago (anything after that is considered vintage).  Of course this is constantly changing.  Identifying any antique glass is simple.  First, see if the glass is marked, finding a mark is the first thing to look for when buying ANY antique, period.   If  you cannot see the mark check the bottom and sides (look closer, use a magnifying glass if necessary).  Many times the mark may be very faint, so use the reflection of the light you are using to aid you.  If you've found a mark, great! You can find the company who made the glass by using a glassmaker marks book.  Or use an internet search engine to look up the mark.  I recommend looking the mark up in a book, it is easier and faster but the internet is a good alternative if you don't have glass identification books laying around.
       If you have found a mark of some sort, whether it be a signature, symbol, or trademark just remember: when searching on a search engine you may need to try different combination's of the description you have.  Here is an example: You have found a handled sugar that has the letter "C" inside a diamond shape on the bottom.  You type "glass mark C in diamond" (without quotes) with this particular mark, which is the Cambridge Glass Company's mark, you have found what you need and are satisfied, but finding a mark is not always that simple.  To make a long story short you should always try the advanced search function if your search did not yield results the first time.  If you know boolean operators (some are built into the advanced search function) use them, these can help you greatly narrow your search (If you did not know what I just said don't worry about it).

       If you have not found a mark, check for scratches on the bottom surface of the glass this may indicate the glass is "old."  Although this a much less accurate way to assess the age of the glass, it can be useful to someone who has experience in the field.  I you find a piece of glass that has a dip in the bottom that looks highly polished, then it may be valuable as this indicates the glassblower polished the pontil mark.  Polishing the pontil mark is an indication that the glassmaker took an extra step to dress up the glass, but remember, even if the pontil is still intact your piece could still be valuble.

      Some glass, such as pressed glass, can be identified by the pattern.  Since certain patterns were made at different times in the 19th century it can be quite easy to find the exact date of your piece.  Of course reproductions are still made so there is a chance the glass is new or vintage (less than 100 years old but more than 60 years old).  A way to tell if your pressed glass is a reproduction is if it is of poor quality, this indicates cheap materials were used in production. Some indications of this are: low clarity, very dull edges, and light weight.  Of course if you are new to glass you may not notice this at first, but experts in the glass field find these features helpful.  Sometimes it can be very hard to tell whether the glass is a reproduction because some molds of the older companies were reused later, as the glass, once again, became popular. 

 A fool-proof way to verify the authenticity of vaseline glass (pictured below) is to use a black-light and shine it on the glass (this is also useful when checking a painting for repairs, (but let's leave that for another guide).  This works only with vaseline glass because a chemical (uranium) was used to colour glass before the WWII era which makes it florescent.  

If you are interested in starting a collection look no further!  You can get some excellent deals on ebay if you know what you are looking at, but be warned, there are some amateurs out there who just use the first description they find.  The safest bet is to go with a seller who has a history of selling antiques.  Although many ways to identify glass cannot be determined by a picture, you always have the option to ask the seller, that's what they're there for!  After about four years in the antiques field I have learned a good bit about the subject.  If you are really interested in antiques these are some books you should purchase: Know Your Antiques - Ralph and Terry Kovel, How Do You Know It's Old? - Harold L. Peterson, The Book of Old Silver - Seymor B. Wyler,  The Kovels' Complete Antique Price List (Latest Edition) - Ralph and Terry Kovel, The Encyclopedia of Furniture (Latest Edition) - Joseph Aronson, The Book of Pottery and Porcelain - Warren Cox, American Glass - George S. and Helen McKearin, and Milk Glass - E. Belknap.  These books are all highly recommended for use in the antiques field and are just the tip of the iceberg for collectors.  You can probably find most of these on eBay!  Imagine that...

Why I am here

Hello fellow internet users.  I have been interested in publishing a blog for quite a while and I decided that today I would make one.  Sorry for the cheesy intro but I didn't want to start with a post and not tell you why I was here.  Alright, on to business.  I am currently working in the computer field but I previously worked in an antiques/auction shop for four years. My experience in antiques is not extensive but my interest is.  My collection is very small and does not include anything over 100 years old so nothing is exactly an antique yet.  I will make a new post in a few days to kick off this new blog, I hope you enjoy it!