Monthly Archives: February 2008

Phone number normalization in OCS 2007

I ran into this issue with OCS 2007 and thought it might come in handy for someone in the future.  Lets say you deploy OCS 2007 in your environment, and in AD you use the phone number field for the office ext, and you want to keep that format.  Lets also assume you are noticing that if you use this configuration you end up with warnings in communicator saying it cannot synchronize the addressbook.  When you check the event log on your OCS server you see errors and warnings about the addressbook server.  You won’t find a service for this component (at least I couldn’t find it), it appears to be built-in to the OCS server software.  You also find a list of invalid AD phone numbers in your C:Program FilesMicrosoft Office Communications Server 2007Web ComponentsAddress Book FilesFiles directory. 

So how can you keep your internal extensions in their current format and still communicator without having to see the annoying addressbook warning.  Its not simple, but the fix is not too complex to impliment.  Here is what to do.  This assumes that you use a format such as “x 5555” for your extensions in AD for the users in the phone number field. 

First, in the OCS 2007 console, right click on the forest, and go to properties, then select voice properties.  Next, click the “Add” button to setup a new default location profile.  Give it a name and a description.  Next, under “Normalization Rules” click the “Add” button.  Give this a name also and a description.  Under translation, enter “^(x|X|x |X )“ without the quotes in the “Phone pattern regular expression” box.  In the next box, enter “$`”  Thats a dollar sign, immediately followed by the key to the left of the number one key on the top number row of your keyboard.  To test this, enter an extension in the same format as you use in AD in the “sample dialed number:“ box.  If it works you should see the resulting number in the format you want in the bottom text box. 

Save you changes by clicking “ok” until you are back at the console screen.  Then you just need to issue some commands on the server to update the address list, which are listed below: (NOTE: CD To the directory of your abserver.exe location)

Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK. 

Type net start abserver, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –regenUR, and then press ENTER.

Type abserver.exe –syncNow, and then press ENTER.

Exit and re-start communciator on your PC/laptop and it should now load with no errors or warnings and you will now see your extensions listed.

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RPC over HTTP(S) for Exchange 2003 – single server

I’m pleased to announce that I’m now able to access my exchange mailbox from anywhere in the world using RPC over HTTP(s).  This was a lot easier to setup than I thought it would be, and following the steps provided by Daniel Petri helped a lot!  I also utilized the RPCFrontend tool that he mentions in the link.  This made things very easy and I got it working the first time I attempted the configuration. 

What this means is that I can now access my mailbox on my Exchange server, from anywhere with the only requirement being an internet connection.  I can just open Outlook, and go straight to my mailbox as if I were on my home network.  I highly recommend this for anyone with Exchange servers, it makes remote connectivity so much easier and can be fully secured with SSL and other security options. 

Now where will I eat?

I just found out that the nearest T.G.I. Fridays to my office just closed down.  No warning at all, and I was just there last week and there was no indication that they were closing the store.  This was the last one in close proximity to my office.  Last year we had one right across the street in the mall that we would frequent for special occasions, but alas it closed as well sometime last year.  With this most recent closing, that makes the closest location borderline too far from my office for regular use.  I guess I’ll have to pick out a new favorite preferred restaurant close by for future events or special occasions.  Not that there is any shortage of good restaurants, but Fridays had my favorite sandwich and recently improved it even better than the old version. 

What no one ever tells you about cluster hardware redundancy

I was recently reminded about this, so I thought I’d post about it and share the knowledge.  I use mostly HP hardware, so in this setup, lets say we have two HP DL585 servers for use in a Windows cluster.  I also have dual fibre channel interfaces in each server.  Externally lets say we have two separate fibre channel switches.  For storage, its an MSA1500 external fibre channel SAN with over 1TB of RAID storage, partitioned for use in a cluster.  The MSA1500 has dual controllers and each controller has its own fibre chennel interface. 

To connect it all together, each server connects one of its two fibre channel interfaces to one physical SAN Switch.  The MSA1500 SAN controllers each get connected to a separate physical SAN switch.  The goal here is to optomize hardware redundancy and make this configuration as fault tolerant as possible.  But here is where the issue comes in. 

No one tells you that you need special software running on each node of the cluster to handle the hardware redundancy.  If you don’t have this software in place, what you will find is that Windows will see two SAN storage arrays.  One of them will be inaccessible since you can only have one physical connection active.  I had to call HP support and go through several explanations of what I was trying to accomplish with all the hardware redundance before I was told about the software I needed.  Its called MultiIO or “Multi Path IO”.  If you do a search on the HP support website, you will find HP MPIO Basic (there are two versions, basic is fine for most people).  Download this software and install on each node and amazingly you will find that things work much better.  From the documentation I saw, there is no indication of needing this software, but in this kind of highly resiliant configuration it is necessary to use MPIO to control the hardware redundancy. 

Vista image resizer

I used to use the Windows XP powertoy “image resizer” which added a quick context menu resize ability to any image file. This was handy if I needed to quickly adjust or resize my images. Now in Vista, that ability is missing, and the powertoy from XP won’t work in Vista. So I found this Vista Image Resizer which is a free alternative. It also adds a context menu option to resize photos. And while it does work ok, I found it has a bug when resizing multiple images, if you leave the option set to resize the originals, it fails to do anything, but if you set it to make copies, then the copied images actually get resized.  This is only an issue if you have multiple photos selected and attempt to resize the originals.  Overall it’s a good replacement, and I recommend it as a replacement for the old XP powertoy.

Pasting links from OWA

I deal with Good support now and then for various technical issues with their mobile e-mail solution (Goodlink).  Today it appears they sent out a survey request to all of their customers, but I had to chuckle a little when I read the message and found they had pasted in the survey link through OWA.  If you read below, you will find the actual URL is missing the first h in the (http), and the actual linked URL is an Exchange OWA redirect link.  This happens when you copy a link from OWA and paste into another message.  By default in OWA, links point to the Exchange redirector and then take you to the link specified at the end of the redirect URL. 

I run into this issue myself from time to time and forget about this until I get a reply back to something I sent out with a complaint that the URL I sent does not work.  To get around I usually paste the link into notepad so I Can get a plain text copy of the link, and then I remove the Exchange redirector part.  I then paste in the plain text link which most e-mail programs and even OWA convert to a hyperlink automatically for you. 

I’m not trying to gripe about this flub, but find it humorous that such a mistake can be made by anyone and its nice to know I’m not the only person out there who forgets about this from time to time and sends out links that don’t work.  Now naturally a technically apt person could easily extract the correct link and get where they need to go, but the average person is going to reply and complain that you sent them a bad link.  Not just that, but now we all have the OWA logon link to their Exchange mailboxes.  (Don’t worry Good (motorola), I’ve hidden the actual OWA Link for your privacy) 🙂  (NOTE: I did receive a correction email from them shortly after receiving the message below).

Dear Valued Motorola Good Technology Group Customer:

Thank you for your recent inquiry into our support team. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and help you and your company meet your mobile messaging needs. To gauge the level of support you, and other customers are receiving, and to better understand where our strengths and weakness are, we are asking for your help.

By clicking on the following link and taking a brief six question survey, you will help us gauge the level of support we are providing our customers. This will allow us to know where our strengths are, and where we need improvement:

ttp://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy <https://nosy.notmotorola.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy>

Please spend the two minutes it will take to respond to the survey questions so we will know how to better serve you in the future.

Sincerely,

The Good Technology Group Technical Support Team

My favorite registry hack

Do you know how annoying it is to try to quickly open a file in Windows that should be all text and naturally you want to open it with a text editor right?  Instead of being an easy process sometimes you have to go through a few steps to pick the program you want to open the file in.  Well here is a quick registry hack that will let you import all the settings necessary to add a context menu (right click menu) item called “open with notepad” when you right click on a file.  I personally like notepad better than wordpad (out of the build-in options in Windows), however, you could substitute your own text editor of choice here and save yourself a lot of trouble.  Just copy the code below into a new notepad document and save the file (to your desktop for example) with a .reg extension.  Then double-click on the resulting .reg file and click “ok” to add the registry information to your computer (NOTE: this only works on Windows operating systems). 

Now when you right click on a file, notice you have a new option in the context menu to open with notepad.  You can customize this as I mentioned to use your own text editor, just replace the name of the menu item and the executable name of your text editor in the code below.  Naturally you need to make sure the .exe is in a set user path so Windows knows where to get it. 

———————— (Copy below this line)————————————

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepad]
@=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepadcommand]
@="notepad.exe %1"

————————-(copy above this line)—————————-——-

Enjoy!

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Ran into issue with LCS 2005 and OCS 2007

LCS 2005 (Enterprise Edition) is installed on a single server with SQL 2005 server for the backend database. ?There is no warning or indication that this would cause any problem and up until now it?hasn’t.? The software does allow for this type of deployment and works fine in this configuration.? OCS 2007 server was recently installed and configured.? During initial testing it was observed that users on the 2005 LCS server could not see presence data and communicate with users on the OCS 2007 server (and vice-versa).??After searching online for solutions it was found that there are two critical hotfixes for LCS 2005 that were said to correct this issue.?

Installing the hotfixes:
Following the instructions on the first hotfix documentation, I installed hotfix 911996.? The installer completed successfully and there was no indication of a problem.? Next I installed the second hotfix 921543, again the installer ran successfully and there was no indication of a problem.? I then checked the services for LCS and found that the LCS Server services would start, but then stop on its own with an error:

Event ID: 12299
Source: Live Communications Server
Details: The service is shutting down due to an internal error.
Error Code: 0xC3EE78F8.

The hotfix documentation mentioned this error as a possibility if you install the patch on the front-end server before the backend patch is installed.? However, since this was a single server deployment with both the back-end database and front-end server components on the same physical server, the hotfix only installed the update for the front-end components.? Again, there is no documentation saying this is not a supported configuration and the installer will gladly allow you do install both components together without a problem in the LCS 2005 setup.? (NOTE: OCS 2007 server prevents this configuration in the installer and will not install both components on the same box when using Enterprise Edition).? There is also no warning in the hotfix documentation not to install the update if you have both components on the same physical box.?

For a resolution, I called Microsoft support services ticket number SRX080212602272 and spoke to an afterhours support specialist.? After some initial troubleshooting and research the technician was able to review a similar case they had a few months ago.? He attempted the resolution listed in their issue history which did ultimately fix the issue.? To resolve, a string value must be deleted from the LCS 2005 registry branch (HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftReal-Time Communications{Your GUID}.? This key “role=EE” ?had to be deleted from the registry in order for the hotfix to install on the back-end database.? Once this was done, the LCS 2005 server service started successfully and we tested connectivity with a test account to verify that the server was working normally.? Basically this tricks the installer into thinking that the server is the backend database only, and it will allow the hotfix to install the back-end components.?

This issue could have been avoided completely if Microsoft had updated their documentation for the hotfix, especially since they had issues with this months ago and should have updated the documentation.? I am recommending to the technical support manager that the documentation be updated since this is a known issue and others have experienced the same problem.? Hopefully this will get done and prevent others from having the same issue.?

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Exchange 2003 | OWA | winmail.dat

I ran into an interesting issue today, something that is an old leftover from early mail systems.? I was trying to e-mail my hosting provider back on a support ticket I had opened with them, but when I replied I got a bounce message saying my mail was rejected with the following message:

————————-
Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

Subject: RE: myticketnumber]: message subject hidden for privacy reasons
Sent: 2/8/2008?3:16 PM
The following recipient(s) could not be reached:?myhostingprovidersemailaddress?on?2/8/2008?3:14 PM
The recipient could not be processed because it would violate the security policy in force
< smtp1.myproviderdomainname.com #5.7.0 smtp; 554-5.7.0 Reject, id=26006-18 – BANNED: multipart/mixed 554 5.7.0 | application/ms-tnef,.tnef,winmail.dat>

——————————-

So I did some digging online, and tested some things out.? I found that even if sending from OWA I still had this issue, so I knew it was a server configuration option I needed to look for.? The provider I am dealing with was quick to blame me of course, but my server config has not changed in years.? So I think they changed something on their side recently with the way their helpdesk processes mail, and thats what caused this issue.?

To resolve it, I went into my ESM, under global settings, internet message formats properties and changed the options to never use Exchange Rich text.? After applying this change, the issue was resolved and mail flow has been restored.?

I personally don?t like making server config changes due to problems with sending mail to just one outside recipient, but I deal with my hosting provider a lot and its a hassle to have to reply from a different mail account.?

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Getting on the VPS bandwagon

I am now switching all my websites over to a VPS environment.  I just signed up for VPS package with my web hosting provider and will be migrating my accounts over soon.  This should provide better uptime, performance, bandwidth, etc.  I also get more control over the server than I’ve had in the past.  At some point I may go with a dedicated server, but I think VPS will do nicely for now. 

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