Monthly Archives: July 2008

Non-upper case SMTP address in recipient policy causes public folder issues on new servers

Recently I ran into an issue with Exchange 2003 where a recently installed server was not able to see public folder objects in ESM, and a test mailbox was also unable to view public folders through outlook.  I tried everything to get this working correctly; I researched the Microsoft Knowledgebase, posted questions in forums, but finally had to call Microsoft professional support for assistance in getting this issue worked out.  None of the troubleshooting steps laid out in the KB articles hit my issue exactly, nor did I find anything else relating to the cause of this issue online. 

To make a long story short, a mis-configuration of a recipient policy was causing the public folder store to NOT get stamped with a PRIMARY SMTP address.  This broke public folder replication, folder hierarchy view from ESM…etc.  Apparently we had a recipient policy which had a lower case (non-primary) SMTP address specified for mail enabled objects.  This policy was stamping the store with a proxy address, but not with the mail attribute.  Apparently the RUS will only stamp public folders with a Primary SMTP address.  This is mis-leading because most or all of the online documentation references the proxy address as the missing attribute, but what was missing is the mail attribute.  So when you run BPA the resulting KB article references the proxy address, and when you check in ADSIEdit, you see that the proxy is clearly there.  This is what initially threw me off and made troubleshooting the issue more complicated.

To resolve the issue, highlight the non-primary SMTP address in the recipient policy, then click the button “Set as primary” to make the SMTP address a primary address.  Save the changes, then wait for replication or force it if you are impatient.  Once we did this, the RUS updated the public folder object and stamped a mail attribute and then we could see the public folder tree in ESM, replication began working, and my issue was resolved. 

It seems I have a habit of running into issues that have symptoms which are usually associated with something else, so most of the online info I find when researching these problems deal with similar issues, but the causes are normally different than the root cause of my troubles.  It seems that it always takes a call to Microsoft support services to identify the issue and resolve it.  So the lesson to be learned here, is to always make sure you have a primary SMTP Address in your recipient policy.  In this case we had two recipient policies, one was

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My first plasma TV

Up until recently, we’ve been using a 57” Hitachi projection TV, which has worked out of over the past nearly 2 years.  Before that we had a 36” Sony WEGA also projection style TV.  With the price of projection TVs so low now, I decided to sell my set while I can and upgrade to a plasma.  There are several advantages for us with this new configuration.  First, we can mount the TV on the wall, preventing the kids from scratching it and causing other type of damage.  Secondly, we re-gain valuable living space with the amount of space we gain by removing the big monster and getting a small thin wall mountable TV.  We also decided to downgrade a bit, going from a 57” set, to a 50”. 

So the old TV was sold over the weekend and now comes the fun part…..picking out the replacement.  I searched around online and read many reviews and looked at lots of models and finally narrowed it down to a Pannasonic or a Samsung model.  I decided to go with the Samsung because of some reviews I’ve read about color accuracy issues with the Pannasonic models.  I ended up getting a Samsung 50A450.  I decided on this one partly because of the price which was very good, and I liked the design and features of the set.  I don’t subscribe to any digital media services like cable or satellite TV, so I don’t need PIP or some of the other features most more expensive sets have.  I just need a connection from my multimedia PC to the TV so that I can play my digital content from the PC.  I bought the TV from eBay for a great price, which included free frieght shipping, a wall mount, and I also purchased a 5–year extended warranty for a total of 6 years of warranty protection. 

The only negative thing here is that I have to wait until Monday to receive the TV, since it is being shipped from California, and will take a few days to get here.  Over the phone I was told it would take 3–5 days, but it turns out it will take about a week counting the weekend.  I wanted to have everything all setup before we had company next week, but oh well.  At least this way I will have some extra hands available to help get it unpacked and moved into place. 

Opening another Microsoft support ticket

Once again I find myself picking up the phone for a Microsoft support incident.  This time for something that might be simple, but then again, it might not be.  Basically I have a new Exchange 2003 server that has been installed into a single domain, single Exchange site organization.  This new server cannot view the public folder heiarchey in ESM.  I created a test mailbox on the server and when connecting through outlook, can also not view any public folders.  Pfdavadmin also cannot see any public folders when connecting to this new Exchange server. 

I ran the BPA for Exchange and it says there is no proxy address, but I checked in ADSIedit and have verified it does.  All the other KBs on the MS Support site don’t help and I’ve tried several things with the RUS and rebooting, but nothing has helped.  Rather than continuing to waste my time working on this, I am going to see if MS support can help speed things along. 

Good Mobile Messaging and Wireless Data Plans explained

It all makes sense now…as of today.  I came to work this morning with a batch of e-mails alerting me to the fact that many of our international users were getting an e-mail from Motorola Good saying they did not have a supported Good Data Plan with their wireless carrier.  We checked with the carriers and verified they had the correct Data Plan that does support GMM. 

A few calls to support and it is all clear now.  Here is what happened.  Remember a few months ago U.S. users started getting letters from at&t wireless saying that you are a GMM users and as such will be automatically switched to an Enterprise Data plan for Good?  That whole process was very confusing, since we paid for our own server and CALs through Good, but then had to pay for a more expensive Data Plan from at&t just because we use Goodlink?  Sounded like double dipping to me and maybe it still is.  Here is the breakdown of how this works now…

   A. You pay for a server license and CALs through Motorola Good

   B. You need a Wireless Data Plan for Good Mobile Messaging (which includes a fee for Direct Secure Transport Service – basically a fee for using the Good NOC).

   C. If you have international users on non-authorized Good reseller providers, you can buy a DSTS plan directly from Good.  

   Its kind of crazy the way this all works, the licensing for Good is confusing and they get you coming and going.  You pay for the server and CALS, but then have to buy a more expensive data plan from a wireless provider that wraps in a fee for using the Good NOC.  So the wireless carrier probably takes a cut, and then you pay Good again for use of their services.  Why not just wrap the NOC fee into the CAL and leave the wireless carriers alone and prevent all this confusion? 

   In any event, my problem today was that apparently we had purchased STS plans previously that had expired.  Good turned off entitlement to these users today without notice.  Now we have to go through sales to renew or purchase new STS plans for a bunch of international users who don’t have the ability to get a Good data plan since there are not that many authorized wireless resellers for Good (7 are listed on the Good website). 

   This goes back to my post about unlimited never truly means unlimited and another post about the letters from at&t.  Oh and not quite related, but relevant, don’t forget to check out my post about goodlink and activesync.

Annoyance with WordPress plugin auto-upgrade

<vent> I love WordPress, its a greatp latform.  I especially like the option to do automatic plugin upgrades.  However one little annoyance has been plaguing me for some time now about this feature.  Sometimes when I try to do a plugin upgrade using the automatic upgrade method, the upgrade process will fail but after the plugin was removed.  This leaves me with a problem since I don’t keep a master list somewhere of all the plugins I use (ok I probably should), so when the install fails and the failure removes my plugin compeltely, I end up losing the plugin and don’t bother to manually re-install it. 

I don’t know if this issue is common to anyone else running WordPress 2.5.1, but it certainly happens to me quite often.  Sometimes the errors are related to a plugin error, it might say unable to create the folder, or some FTP related issue, but almost always the failure removes the plugin completely and I am left with having to spend the time to manuall re-install.  </vent>

Mailfoundry review

I’ve been using mailfoundry for my MX based spam filter (a hosted solution) for about 1 week now.  So far I have mixed feelings of the services which I will try to explain below.  I am using the service for two of my domains which are the primary two that I receive mail on.  I have about 10 addresses at each domain. 

The good:

   1. The service is easy to setup, just change your MX records
   2. Easy to configure, for the most part its failry easy to setup this service.
   3. No software required – this is a completely hosted solution, no software needed on your server.
   4. Offloads CPU/MEM/PERFORMANCE from your mail server = less load
   5. Mail bagging – if your server goes down, mailfoundry will queue mail for you
   6. Effectiveness – I have to say the effectiveness of this server is very good (see stats below)
   7. Good range of options – for a hosted service you have a good amount of control
   8. Filters – there are a wide range of custom filters and cutomization you can do in your control panel

The could be better:

   Some of the descriptions of the options (or even lack thereof) are a bit cryptic.  Sometimes you may not know exactly what the option is for or how it works.  I also found the web interface to be a bit slow at times, taking many seconds to load each page.  This is a hosted solution so I’m sure the performance of the box is going to vary. 

   If you use the hosted version of their spam filtering service, you can’t associate more than one domain to any single logon account.  Since I have two domains, I now have two logons to manage each one, which is not so much a problem as an inconvenience, especially if I had many domains.  With the appliance version you can have one account with multiple domains if you choose to go with the hardware appliance option. 

   When I was configuring my SMTP settings, it was a little tricky to import my whitelists.  I managed to do it, but it took some manual formatting to get the system to import my list correctly.  Also, under the SMTP routes configuration (how to deliver mail to my server), I had a little trouble getting this setup correctly.  Apparently when your account is setup, the mail server and port are uneditable.  For me, I use a custom SMTP port for incoming mail on my Exchange server.  When I signed up for service with MailFoundry, I was unable to specify this custom port, so when they configured my account it was setup on port 25.  I could not edit the port, but did find a workaround on my own after some experimentation.  To get around this, just add a bogus mail server and port (perferable before you point your MX records at their system), then delete the initial mail server they setup.  Now add the correct mail server and port and save your configuration.  A bit tricky, but it does work. 

   My biggest gripe about the service is the lack of a more complete logging solution.  I have a feeling there are some legitimate messages being blocked by one of any number of their spam checks.  I just have no way to prove it without allowing all spam to be forwarded or tagged.  I get about 12,000 spam messages per week, so this is not a very attractive option for me.  I would like to have the option to downlaod a log file of all blocked messages, whether they were deleted, tagged, quarantined or dropped by RBL.  Currently, there does not seem to be an option for this.  If the sender triggers any of the spam checks they are blocked.  No log, no quarantine, its just gone.  So I am sure there are some valid messages being deleted by the system, but I have no way to know for sure. 

   The catch rates are good, but a few messages come through that the services doesn’t get.  Fortunately, I have not removed the spam filter from my Exchange server, so wahtever mailfoundry doesn’t catch, GFI Mail Essentials does.  I haven’t seen a single spam in my inbox since implimenting this solution.  My mail server no longer has to process those thousands of spam messages anymore and I don’t have to sort through a spam mailbox to check for false positives. 

   One more note, I have found that even if you select the option to forward spam messages to another mailbox, this will not forward everything.  It seems all RBL, RDDNS, RFC and RP Sanity messages get dropped, you only receive spam messages that the filter thinks are spam but are not on any block lists.  So there really is no way with mailfoundry to tag everything and let you see the results of the filter, they just block all messages sent from hosts on block lists (not always accurate), and then forward on the few remaining messages. 

   As far as stats.  Check it out…

Since Thursday, my first domain has received 10,465 messages, 231 were allowed through, 10,234 were blocked.  My spam rate is 97.79%.  My second domain has been filtering since Friday or Saturday, and has received 9,931 messages.  280 were allowed through and 9,651 were blocked.  My spam rate for the second domain is 97.18%. 

   Overall, I like the mailfoundry hosted anti-spam service.  I think there are a few improvements that could be made, but I am pleased with the functionality, effectiveness and so far I haven’t noticed any important false positives.  I will continue to try this service for a few more weeks before deciding to make it permanent. 

Its disappointing – Star Trek: The Experience is closing!

I was sad to read today that Star Trek: The Experience is closing its doors in Vegas.  I wanted to go and check it out someday (guess I waited too many somedays), but now it is too late.  At least there is hope that maybe they will re-locate closer to Florida!  The following is an excerpt from the source – Wired:

“Offering a sad commentary on the state of the Star Trek franchise, the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas will shut down Star Trek : The Experience this fall.

Part simulator, part environment, part museum and (of course) part gift shop/restaurant, the Experience opened 10 years ago during the height of popularity for the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies. The exhibit gave fans a chance to examine a Trek time line with a collection of sci-fi relics. Then visitors could talk to a Klingon over a drink after strolling across the bridge of the Enterprise.

But, the exhibit isn’t drawing the fans it once did — just as the franchise is fading off the public radar. While J.J. Abrams is hustling to save Star Trek on the big screen, it’s too late to save it in Vegas.

The collection of props, costumed “aliens” and adventure simulators was a welcome, nerd-friendly escape from the hustling sleaze and nonstop pinging of slot machines filling the rest of the town. There’s no word what will be done with the emptied retail space in the Hilton, but the museum props, ship mock-ups and other bits of Trek history will be returned to Paramount.

CBS/Paramount statements indicate the search is on for the Experience’s new home.”

Receiving files over bluetooth

On my at&t tilt running a cooked WM6.1 ROM and a few good apps, I had one major problem recently.  I couldn’t receive files over bluetooth.  My wife just switched to a Treo 680 and I was trying to get her ringtone off of her old Samsung flip phone.  I was going to send the file over bluetooth to my TILT and then sopy it to a mem card or e-mail to myself so I could get it onto her Treo via other means (bluetooth won’t work on a Treo for transferring an MP3 rington). 

I just couldn’t get the file transfer to work, her Samsung phone would try for a few seconds and then give up with the error “sending cancelled”.  I tried various things for days to get this to work, and today I just found out why I had this problem.  Apparently, even though the TILT has no infrared port, the beam settings intermingle with bluetooth settings.  So in order to receive a file over bluetooth, you have to enable “receive all incomming beams” in the connections tab (start > settings > connections tab > beam).  Now that I have enabled this option, I am able to transfer files over bluetooth.  I never even checked in there before since I thought “beam” was just part of the old infrared controls.  Apparently thats not it at all and the beam setting affects bluetooth file transfers. 

Hopefully this will help someone else overcome this issue without all the time and frustration it cost me to figure it out.  See this thread for enlightenment.