Web Request Always Redirects, While Web Browser Does Not

Today I had a breakthrough on an issue that has stewing for many months.  Every once in a while, I would pick the project back up again and see if I could approach it differently and maybe come up with a solution.  Today is the day.

The problem was in one of my homebrew personal utility programs, used to download images from the Internet.  One day, when I went to run the utility, it suddenly started failing and I could not get it to resume.  When I would request the same URL in a web browser, the download worked without any problem, but trying to download using code was a no-go.

Clearly, there is a difference between handmade code and a web browser, the task was to determine what the difference was in order to make the code better emulate the browser.  I added many http headers, trying to find out what was the missing piece.  I tried capturing cookies, but that had no effect either.  I even used a network monitor to capture the network traffic and couldn’t see any significant difference between my code and a browser.

Today, starting from scratch in a new project, I tried again.  To get the basic browser header that I needed, I visited a web site, like I had done in previous attempts.  This particular web site returned a number of headers I had never seen before, which I found very curious.  When I duplicated all those headers in my code, my requests worked.  Eliminating the headers one by one identified the one that I needed: X-Forwarded-Proto.

This header has been around for nearly a decade, although I’ve never heard of it, nor seen it implemented anywhere.  It seems to be specific to load balancers, which is actually relevant since the image host I am calling runs through a load balancer.  I was able to add the header to a standard WebClient and didn’t actually need to go to the HttpWebRequest level of code and my requests started working again.

I am not sure if the obscurity of this header was a browser-sniffing check by the load balancer to weed out bots and automated download tools (of which my utility would be classified), or whether it was just part of a new, stricter set of w3c standards that got included in a software update.  Realistically, it didn’t break anything for their users since their primary traffic is web browsers.

Utility: HardLinker

Many years ago, I used to use ACDSee for image viewing and have since switched to Faststone Image Viewer.  Not all that long ago, I had sent an email to their “comment box” with praise and a suggestion (the praise was to hopefully get my suggestion implemented).  Despite not hearing back from them, it didn’t stop me from brainstorming solutions to my problem.  I have found a way to address my needs, by writing a utility.

To summarize my request, I was looking for some sort of photo management like “albums” or “collections”.  For a pure image viewing application like Faststone, I can understand the trepidation the developers would have in implementing that feature.  It would be sure to divide their userbase as to whether it was done properly and whether it should have been done at all.

You can organize photos into folders on your hard drive, sure, but what if you want a photo in two or more albums?  You have duplicate files wasting space and possibly getting out of sync.  So my suggestion was that the file browser in FastStone have the capability to parse windows shortcuts, which are just LNK text files with pointers to the original file.  That way, you could put shortcuts into album folders and keep the originals where they are.

Recently, I stumbled on the concept of symbolic links, which are like shortcuts, but operate at a lower level.  A symbolic link looks just like a file to an application.  It doesn’t know any different.  By using symbolic links, I could get the functionality I needed with no application changes to Faststone.  I tested this concept and it was completely successful.  So I set about trying to figure out how to build something that I could use with Faststone.

Faststone has a way to call external applications for editing photos.  I could use this same feature to call a utility to generate symbolic links in a selected folder.  My first version of the utility was very simple.  It simply opened a FolderBrowserDialog and wrote links for the files specified on the command line.  However, FastStone had a limitation.  It would not send multiple filenames on a command line.  Instead it would call the external application over and over, once per selected file.

The second version of the utility would capture the multiple calls and write the links in one pass, as long as you left the dialog open until Faststone was done calling the external application.  This was ok, but I couldn’t get any visual feedback on how many files were queued up while the dialog was open.  So I had to create my own folder browser and use my own form which would not be open modally.

As with any attempt to recreate a standard windows control. the results are less than perfect, although serviceable.  The result is a utility called HardLinker.  HardLinker will remember the last folder you used as well as the size of the window.  The files queued will climb as the utility is called multiple times.


Under normal usage, you need to be an administrator to create a symbolic link, so HardLinker needs to be run as an administrator.  However, in Windows 10, now you can enable developer mode and create links without being in admin mode.  See: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsdeveloper/2016/12/02/symlinks-windows-10/ for more information.

So, in addition to calling HardLinker from Faststone, I also added a shortcut to the utility in my SendTo folder, so I can use it with Windows Explorer.  Calling it from Explorer is very fast since all the files are on the command line and you don’t have to wait for the multiple instances to keep spinning up.

If you are interested in this utility, you can download it from here.

CUERipper CUE Only Modification

In another hobby of mine, CD collecting, I utilize a few different tools in my collecting and cataloging process.  One of which is Exact Audio Copy (EAC), which I use to rip the CD audio to my computer.  When you collect early-edition CDs as I do, you might run into some CDs that had a special equalization called pre-emphasis, which requires you to apply an inverse equalization to the files after ripping.  Additionally, some early CDs had track subindexes, where you could jump to defined sections within a long track.

EAC, while being a good ripping program, is not able to identify either of these special features, which is why I also use CUERipper.  CUERipper is a part of the CUETools suite, which is an open-source program for ripping, authoring, and modifying CUE files.  CUE files are the true index of a CD’s tracks.  They include information such as indexes, track gaps, and pre-emphasis flags.

However, one of the drawbacks to CUERipper is that you have to rip the entire CD to get the CUE file.  Well, you can cancel the rip early, or you can specify an invalid compressor causing it to error out after the CUE generation.  Neither is an efficient workflow.  So, I downloaded the source code and made some changes specific to what I wanted.

Since I was going to run through a large number of CDs to get the pre-emphasis and index info, I wanted a way to only generate a CUE file.  To make the process even quicker, I wanted CUERipper to start the rip as soon as it had the album metadata to use, and I wanted it to eject the CD as soon as it was done with the CUE file.


I added three new options to CUERipper, with obvious meanings:

  • Eject after extraction
  • Start immediately
  • Create CUE file only

The options are useful even if you are doing a full CD rip, but for my needs, the CUE file generation was reduced to inserting a CD, waiting about 30 seconds while the disc indexes are read, then switching CDs after the tray ejects.

If you are interested in using this modified version of CUERipper, you can download it from here.

Youtube-dl Bookmarklet

One of my favorite things is custom protocol handlers.  The idea you can launch an application with a URL is awesome to me.  I implemented it at my current company for their internal application and it is far and away the most progressive feature the business users love.

One of my side hobbies is digital archiving, which is simply downloading stuff and saving it.  Aside from the archivist mentality of it, I do like to have local copies of items just because you can’t trust the Internet for anything.  Content comes and goes at will, and even with that, connectivity comes and goes, and one thing that keeps coming and never goes is advertising.  So, local copies win out every time in every case.

I’ve written utilities to assist in my image archiving, but when it comes to video archiving, I’ve usually used FreeDownloadManager. but sometimes it doesn’t do the job.  I had recently learned of an open-source tool called YouTube-dl, which is a command-line tool to download videos from a wide variety of websites.

I downloaded it and tried it out on a few concert videos and the utility worked quite well, so it’s been added into my toolkit.  But, being a command-line tool, it’s a little cumbersome.  What I wanted to do was launch the downloader passing the URL of the page I was currently viewing, which was hosting the video I wanted to download.  This is something I do with my image downloading utilities, too, so it’s a concept not too foreign to me.  It involves custom protocol handlers and bookmarklets.

First thing we need to do is create a custom protocol handler.  For this, ytdl:// is the protocol I chose to use.  I created a registry file (protocol.reg) with the following contents.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

"URL Protocol"=""
@="URL:Youtube-DL Application"


@="\"wscript \"y:\\videos\\youtube-dlWrapper.vbs\" \"%1"\""

Notice the execution path command.  This will obviously be different paths for different people, but there is a VBScript file that needs to be created at that location to execute.  The contents of that script are as follows.

dim shell
set shell=createobject(“wscript.shell”)

cmdline=”””y:\videos\youtube-dl.exe”” “”” & replace(wscript.arguments(0),”ytdl://”,””) & “”””

set shell=nothing

The cmdline is generated to execute the actual youtube-dl utility, passing the URL of the video.  However, the URL in arguments(0) has the custom protocol handler ytdl:// prefixing it, so that is stripped out.

The last part is the bookmarklet itself.  In your web browser, create a new bookmark for whatever page you’re on, then edit the bookmark to give it a better title and to have the following URL:


This is how the VBScript ends up with ytdl:// in the address.  To summarize the entire process:

  1. You click the bookmarklet on a page with a video
  2. The URL of the page is prepended with ytdl:// and is navigated to
  3. Your browser recognizes it as a custom protocol and executes the URL on the local system (after appropriate security warnings)
  4. Windows looks up the protocol in the registry and determines it is to launch youtube-dlWrapper.vbs passing the URL as an argument.  The URL still has ytdl:// in front of it at this time.
  5. The wrapper VBScript strips out the leading protocol and passes the remaining URL to the youtube-dl.exe for download.
  6. A command window opens with youtube-dl running and closes when the download is complete.

System.Net.Http Error After Visual Studio 15.8.1 (2017) Update

Today we started getting an error from three web applications.  Two were web services and one was an ASP.NET MVC website.  The error was:

Could not load file or assembly ‘System.Net.Http, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a’ or one of its dependencies. The located assembly’s manifest definition does not match the assembly reference. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80131040)

The error was occurring on this standard line in the global.asax file:


Looking at the trace statements on the error page, there was a mention of a binding redirect, which I recall seeing in the web.config of the site.  That section in the web config looked like:

    <assemblybinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
        <assemblyidentity culture="neutral" publickeytoken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" name="System.Net.Http">
          <bindingredirect newversion="" oldversion="">

This config block had been in place since December, 2015.  The block seems to have been added by a NuGet package at the same time, possibly with a Framework version upgrade.

However it originally ended up there, removing the config block allowed the sites to launch again.  It’s unknown why this started happening after a Visual Studio upgrade.

Batch Applying MetaFLAC ReplayGain Tags To Recursive Album Folders

I’ve been ignoring PowerShell for a very long time, even though I know it is the future of scripting.  The structure of the language is very foreign, with all of the pipe options.  But I muddled through the examples I found online and came up with my first usable PowerShell script.

The purpose of the script is to iterate recursively through a folder structure and generate a command statement using all the files in each folder.  In this case, MetaFLAC is being called with arguments to apply ReplayGain tags to all the files in a folder.  To do this effectively, you have to pass all the file names in the folder on one command line.  This is so the overall album sound level can be calculated.

Without further introduction, here is the script:

     This script applies album-level and file-level 
     ReplayGain tags to FLAC album folders recursively

    Example usage from PS command line: 
     .\ReplayGain.ps1 -root:"c:\music\FLAC"

    MetaFLAC.exe must be in same folder or in environment PATH 

     #Fully-qualified path to top-level folder. 

Function CallMetaFLAC($d){ 
     Write-Host "Processing" ($d | Get-ChildItem -Filter "*.flac").length "files in" $d 
     if (($d | Get-ChildItem -Filter "*.flac").length -gt 0){ 
         $args="--add-replay-gain "

        foreach ($f in ($d | Get-ChildItem -Filter "*.flac" | % {$_.FullName}) ){ 
             $args=$args + """$f"" " 

        Start-Process "metaflac.exe" $args -Wait -NoNewWindow 

    # Process Subfolders 
     foreach($dd in $d | Get-ChildItem -Directory){ 
         CallMetaFLAC $dd 

Write-Host "Starting in $root" 

CallMetaFLAC $root

Write-Host "Ending"

SSRS Projects Fail To Load/Incompatible With Visual Studio 2017

Our team recently began having trouble working with SSRS reports in a VS2017 solution.  The problem began when I opened up the report solution and was prompted to upgrade the report project files.  If I didn’t upgrade them, I couldn’t use them.  The project files were upgraded, then no one else on the team could use them.

The problems varied from system to system.  Some of the errors said that the project was incompatible.  Some said there was an XML error.

There was a lot of comparing systems and troubleshooting.  Everyone was sure to have SQL Server Data Tools (15.3 Preview) installed.  Some uninstalled and reinstalled this component, but that probably was not a factor.

The two things that really mattered were that the VS Extension for Reporting Services was installed and that it was V1.2 (some had v1.15 and could not open projects until it was upgraded).  Those that uninstalled SQL Data Tools had this extension uninstalled automatically and also had to do a repair install on SQL Server Management Studio.


The other issue, was that (most likely) the rptproj.user files were incompatible with the 1.20 extension.  Deleting *.rptproj.user files allowed the projects to load.

Arrangeable FlowLayout Panel

I found this piece of code and when I ran it, I was surprised how usable it actually was.

At the time, I needed something that would allow me to sort an array of things by dragging and dropping.  The things I was working with were photos, but this class handles pretty much everything.

You can grab an item and drag it into a new position.  A caret shows you where the new position will be.  Even better, you can multi-select items and drag them to a new position.  When you need the new order, just iterate through the child controls.

I don’t actually have a use for it right now, but I need to save this so I have it for the future.

Public Class ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel
    Inherits FlowLayoutPanel

    Protected mouseDownPoint As Point
    Protected insertCaret As PictureBox
    Protected isMultiSelectOn As Boolean
    Protected isRangeSelectOn As Boolean

    Public Property AllowReordering As Boolean = True
    Public Property CaretColor As Color = Color.Green
    Public Property CaretWidth As Integer = 3
    Public Property CaretPadding As Padding = New Padding(2, 0, 2, 0)
    Public Property SelectionColor As Brush = Brushes.Black
    Public Property SelectionWidth As Integer = 1
    Friend Property SelectedControls As New Generic.List(Of Control)
    Public Property DragTolerance As Integer = 40

    Public Event ItemOrderChanged(sender As Object, e As EventArgs)

    Public Sub New()
        Me.AllowDrop = True
        Me.AutoScroll = True


    End Sub

    Private Sub Form_Key(sender As Object, e As KeyEventArgs)
        isMultiSelectOn = e.Control
        isRangeSelectOn = e.Shift
    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ControlAdded(sender As Object, e As ControlEventArgs) Handles Me.ControlAdded
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseDown, AddressOf Item_MouseDown
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseUp, AddressOf Item_MouseUp
        AddHandler e.Control.MouseMove, AddressOf Item_MouseMove
        AddHandler e.Control.Paint, AddressOf Item_Paint

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ControlRemoved(sender As Object, e As ControlEventArgs) Handles Me.ControlRemoved
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseDown, AddressOf Item_MouseDown
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseUp, AddressOf Item_MouseUp
        RemoveHandler e.Control.MouseMove, AddressOf Item_MouseMove
        RemoveHandler e.Control.Paint, AddressOf Item_Paint

        If SelectedControls.Contains(e.Control) Then SelectedControls.Remove(e.Control)

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_ParentChanged(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.ParentChanged
        Dim f As Form

        f = Me.FindForm
        If f IsNot Nothing AndAlso Not f.KeyPreview Then f.KeyPreview = True

        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key

        AddHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        AddHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key
    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_Disposed(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.Disposed

        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyDown, AddressOf Form_Key
        RemoveHandler Me.FindForm.KeyUp, AddressOf Form_Key

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragDrop(sender As Object, e As DragEventArgs) Handles Me.DragDrop
        Dim dropIndex As Integer

        For i As Integer = 0 To SelectedControls.Count - 1
            dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(insertCaret)
            Me.Controls.SetChildIndex(SelectedControls(i), dropIndex + 1)

        RaiseEvent ItemOrderChanged(Me, New EventArgs)

    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragLeave(sender As Object, e As EventArgs) Handles Me.DragLeave
        Dim topBorderY As Integer
        Dim bottomBorderY As Integer
        Dim mousePositionY As Integer
        Dim hostForm As Form


        hostForm = Me.FindForm
        topBorderY = hostForm.PointToClient(Me.Parent.PointToScreen(Me.Location)).Y
        bottomBorderY = Me.Height + topBorderY
        mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y

        Do While mousePositionY >= bottomBorderY ' Below bottom of control
            If Me.VerticalScroll.Value <= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange + Me.VerticalScroll.Maximum Then
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value += Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value = Me.VerticalScroll.Maximum
            End If

            mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y


        Do While mousePositionY <= topBorderY ' Above top of control
            If Me.VerticalScroll.Value >= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange - Me.VerticalScroll.Minimum Then
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value -= Me.VerticalScroll.SmallChange
                Me.VerticalScroll.Value = Me.VerticalScroll.Minimum
            End If

            mousePositionY = hostForm.PointToClient(MousePosition).Y


    End Sub

    Private Sub ArrangeableFlowLayoutPanel_DragOver(sender As Object, e As DragEventArgs) Handles Me.DragOver
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim dropControlPosition As Point
        Dim dropIndex As Integer

        If e.Data IsNot Nothing Then
            e.Effect = DragDropEffects.Move
            ctl = Me.GetChildAtPoint(Me.PointToClient(New Point(e.X, e.Y)))

            If ctl IsNot Nothing AndAlso ctl IsNot insertCaret Then
                dropControlPosition = ctl.PointToClient(New Point(e.X, e.Y))

                If dropControlPosition.X <= ctl.Width \ 2 Then
                    dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl) - 1
                    dropIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl) + 1
                End If

                If dropIndex < 0 Then dropIndex = 0

                If Not Me.Controls.Contains(insertCaret) Then
                    insertCaret.Height = ctl.Height
                End If

                Me.Controls.SetChildIndex(insertCaret, dropIndex)

            End If

        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseDown(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        If e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            mouseDownPoint = e.Location
        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseUp(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim startIndex As Integer
        Dim endIndex As Integer
        Dim newCtl As Control

        If e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

            ' Choosing individual items or the first of a range
            If isMultiSelectOn OrElse (isRangeSelectOn And SelectedControls.Count = 0) Then
                If SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
                End If


                ' Choosing the end of a range
            ElseIf isRangeSelectOn Then
                startIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(SelectedControls(SelectedControls.Count - 1))
                endIndex = Me.Controls.GetChildIndex(ctl)

                For i As Integer = startIndex To endIndex Step CInt(IIf(startIndex < endIndex, 1, -1))
                    newCtl = DirectCast(Me.Controls(i), Control)

                    If Not SelectedControls.Contains(newCtl) Then
                    End If


                For Each c As Control In Me.Controls

            End If ' single or multi-select

        End If ' Left button only

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_MouseMove(sender As Object, e As MouseEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control
        Dim rect As Rectangle
        Dim rectPoint As Point

        If AllowReordering AndAlso e.Button = System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons.Left Then
            ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

            ' create a range before dragging activates
            rectPoint = New Point(mouseDownPoint.X, mouseDownPoint.Y)
            rectPoint.Offset(0 - (Me.DragTolerance \ 2), 0 - (Me.DragTolerance \ 2))

            rect = New Rectangle(rectPoint, New Size(Me.DragTolerance, Me.DragTolerance))

            ' See if we've dragged outside the tolerance area
            If Not rect.Contains(e.Location) Then

                ' dragged item is not in selection, include it if ctrl is held
                ' otherwise, clear the selection and only use the dragged item
                If Not SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
                    If isMultiSelectOn Then

                        For Each c As Control In Me.Controls

                    End If ' Ctrl held down

                End If ' Not in current selection

                Me.DoDragDrop(SelectedControls, DragDropEffects.Move)

            End If ' Outside drag buffer area

        End If ' mouse button down

    End Sub

    Private Sub Item_Paint(sender As Object, e As PaintEventArgs)
        Dim ctl As Control

        ctl = DirectCast(sender, Control)

        If SelectedControls.Contains(ctl) Then
            ' Draw outline
            e.Graphics.DrawRectangle(New Pen(Me.SelectionColor, Me.SelectionWidth), Me.SelectionWidth \ 2, Me.SelectionWidth \ 2, ctl.Width - Me.SelectionWidth, ctl.Height - Me.SelectionWidth)
        End If

    End Sub

    Private Sub CreateCaret()
        insertCaret = New PictureBox
        With insertCaret
            .Name = "caret"
            .Height = 1
            .Width = CaretWidth
            .Margin = CaretPadding
            .Padding = New Padding(0)
            .BackColor = Me.CaretColor
        End With

    End Sub

End Class

VS2015 Hangs/Freezes When Adding MVC Controller or View

This issue came to me today at work where two devs said they couldn’t add a new view to a project.  I repro’d it right away and began investigating.

The problem was isolated to one project in the solution.  I compared references between projects and compared the underlying project files.  Each change that I made to bring them closer into alignment didn’t help.

As said many times, the trick to successful debugging is isolation.  So I unloaded every project except for the web project being tested.  The Add dialogs loaded immediately.  So at this point, I had a workaround.  The projects referenced by the web project (only one) could be unloaded when a new view or controller was needed.

Although this was a workaround, it’s hardly a solution.  I continued down that path of figuring out why the MVC Add dialogs were causing VS to hang.

At one point, I was researching online and I noticed that the Add Controller dialog did appear.  It took over 5 minutes to get to that point, but it did show.  So I tried the Add View dialog and it eventually did show as well.  The dropdown list for model classes was populated with every class from the referenced project.  That might have been the cause of the slowdown.

Something about the dialog struck me funny.  They were different between the two projects.  This suggested to me that they were using different libraries.  I loaded up the NuGet package manager between the two projects and saw the functional project used Razor v2.0, but the failing project used v3.2.3.

I downgraded the failing project to Razor 2.0.  This caused a new problem.  I no longer had context menu options to directly add controllers or views.  Fortunately, I knew where to go for this fix.

In the project file is a node called ProjectTypeGuid, which tells VS what menu options to provide.  I could see the non-working project was missing one of  the guids.  I quick copy between the projects restored the context menu options.

TFS 2012 Fails To Create New Team Project

Today, I went to add a new team project to TFS.  I did the usual steps by giving it a name and choosing the template type (not really relevant to me since I’m a solo programmer).  Visual Studio worked for a bit, then failed with the following error in the log file:

Event Description: TF30162: Task "LinkTypes" from Group "WorkItemTracking" failed
Exception Type: Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Client.PcwException
Exception Message: Page not found.

The Internet had plenty of advice to resolve TF30162 errors, but nothing useful for the specific LinkTypes error.  The only suggestion was to reload the project templates.  I was not able to do that because in TFS 2012, those templates are locked and unable to be uploaded and overwritten.

So I attempted a Repair install of TFS 2012.  That had no effect

I then made sure I was on the latest version of TFS, so I installed Update 4.  My scrum project template went from 2.0 to 2.2, but I still got the exact same error.

I then tried to create a new Project Collection and create a team project in that.  Still, no change.

Then I did a repair install on Visual Studio 2015.  This took a very long time and required two restarts.  And after that, no improvement.

So far, I’ve eliminated the TFS binaries, the TFS database, and the VS binaries.  There’s only one element left – IIS.  And that one seems to have potential because of the PageNotFound error.

Poking around the IIS log files, there’s entries in there like this:

2017-01-09 14:27:23 ::1 GET /tfs/_apis/connectionData connectOptions=IncludeServices&lastChangeId=-1&lastChangeId64=-1 8080 MicrosoftAccount\myaccount@domain.com ::1 VSServices/14.98.25331.0+(devenv.exe+,Pro,+SKU:31) – 404 0 0 1719

Looking at IIS log files prior to when my problem happened,  this 404 error has happened before, too.  but there was also other calls to the service like:

2016-03-25 12:43:46 ::1 OPTIONS /tfs/defaultcollection/_apis/ – 8080 MicrosoftAccount\myaccount@domain.com ::1 Team+Foundation+(devenv.exe,+14.0.24712.0,+Pro,+SKU:31)+VSServices/14.0.24712.0+(devenv.exe+,Pro,+SKU:31) – 404 0 0 8

Two suspects come up in Internet searches: Git and IIS plugins.  Disabling some of the plugins in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 11.0\Application Tier\Web Services\bin\Plugins made no difference.

At this point, I suspect an incompatibility between VS2015 and TFS 2012, so I upgrade my TFS install to 2015.  What else could it be?  A call is being made to a REST service that doesn’t exist, or is different enough that the inbound parameters don’t match up.  This TFS upgrade requires SQLExpress to be upgraded as well.  The rabbit hole keeps going deeper and deeper.

After that entire install and restart, I was finally able to create a new Team Project.  The new default project template is “Agile”, not that I care much.

So, the short solution for my error: Upgrade TFS from 2012 to 2015.  It must’ve become incompatible after a VS update somewhere along the way.