Blog Archives

Microsoft support and the BSOD

I was on a call to Microsoft support today for an issue with Communication server 2007.  During the initial steps of the support call when the technician was trying to setup the Easy Assist session, his computer started a memory dump with a BSOD.  He had to jump to another machine while rebooting the now inoperable computer.  He apologized politely, but it was no big thing for me, I actually got a kick out of it.  It also helped that the Guy (Hi Patrick), was a BSG fan and we chatted a little about the upcoming Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica

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FIOS customers – better DNS solution

If you have Verizon FIOS, and haven’t already customized your router to use better DNS Servers, do yourself a favor and do so asap.  By default Verizon uses “DNS assistance” on their *.*.*.12 DNS servers.  Set your router to use custom DNS servers and change the ending .12 to a .14.  Alternatively, using any of the other official Verizon DNS Servers in the range of 4.2.2.1 through 4.2.2.5 is also a good bet. 

If you don’t customize your DNS, the Verizon DNS assistance configuration can potentially cause issues for Tech Savy users who do VPN, host monitoring, etc.  You are also helping Verizon make more money by being served ads on their DNS assistance page. 

I came across this help link on the Verizon website that will guide you through changing your router config to optomize your DNS settings…

Black logon screen for Server 2003

This is the first time I’ve run across this issue, but what was happening is I’d see a black screen both through RDP and from the actual server console.  You could see a little bit of the windows logon box, but it was cut off where the username and password fields would be.  If you can fumble your way through the logon screen you’d be able to logon but everything was still black, the only color you’d see would be in the desktop icons.  This makes it virtually impossible to do anything on the server.  This situation does not cause a work stoppage, as all the background services ran fine, you just can’t logon and do anything. 

So I started searching around and ultimately ran across a MS KB article 906510.  I’ll paste in the information below, but the KB said it was an issue with the color scheme, and the registry values were all set to “0”.  At least that is whats listed as the cause of the black screen symptom, but it does not offer an explanation of what would cause the numbers to get set to “0” in the first place. 

To resolve this I had to do the following:  (NOTE: the drive mapping step was only needed for my solution as the server was not on the domain and not using internal DNS, so I could not authenticate on the domain).

1. Map a drive from another network machine to this server using local admin credentials.
2. Open regedit and connect remote registry to the server in question. (this will not work unless you map the drive first – see above note)
3. Use an export from a working server of the registry key noted in the MS KB and import that into the remote server.
4. Attempt logon through RDP or at the console, the color issue should be resolved. 

I wish I knew what caused this issue, but I can’t find much as to the actual cause.  I heard talk that maybe it was a disk space issue, but my server had 10GB of free space, so that wasn’t it.  Hope this information helps someone in the future.

Help and Support service missing in Server 2003

I ran into a situation in which the Help and Support service in server 2003 dissappeared.  I had no idea why, and for a long time left it alone.  I then did some digging and found a KB article from Microsoft describing how to re-install the service.  Follow these instructions (taken from MS KB article 937055):

To resolve this problem, reinstall the Help and Support service. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd in the Open box, and then click OK.
2. At the command prompt, locate the following folder:

%windir%PCHealthHelpCtrBinaries
3. At the command prompt, type the following commands, and then press ENTER after each command:

HelpSvc.exe /regserver /svchost netsvcs /RAInstall
HSCUpd.exe -i hscmui.cab
HSCUpd.exe -i hscsp_s3.cab

Note The following commands do not apply to some language versions of Windows Server 2003:

HSCUpd.exe -i hscmui.cab
HSCUpd.exe -i hscsp_s3.cab

The reason is that the Hscmui.cab compressed file is not included in some language versions of Windows Server 2003, such as the Japanese version of Windows Server 2003.

Terminal server – strange behavior

Something really strange just happened, and I can’t explain it.  Yesterday I was trying to install Terminal Services on a Widnows 2003 server.  I went through the normal install routine, and set my options and everything installed ok.  But when I went to view the configuration, it was set to Remote administration mode, and did not prompt me for this before install.  I was also trying to install Citrix and couldn’t get past the first part of the installer because it detected TS wasn’t in application mode.  I tried uninstalling and re-installing and nothing helped. 

Here is the weird part, this morning when I tried doing the same thing, uninstalling and re-installing, this time it worked fine.  I don’t even see a mode option in the configuration now and the Citrix setup is allowing me to proceed.  I didn’t do anything differently this time, same options and same license server, but this time it worked.  I have no idea why, but I’m not complaining, I just hate coming across things like this that don’t make sense and I can’t explain what happened.

Goodlink 5 deployment issue

I have been working on deploying multiple Goodlink 5 messaging servers recently, and came across a problem with the user migration feature in Goodlink 5.  Normally if you have more than one Good messaging server, you have the option to “change good messaging server” when you right-click on a user account.  So in my deployment when I didn’t see this option enabled, I had to call Goodlink support.  What I found out made sense, but is definately irritating. 

I called Goodlink support before deploying Goodlink version 5 to ask about deployment options and get some advice on my project.  I asked about the user migration feature and using multiple GoodAdmin mailboxes, and was told that it should work fine.  Now here is where the issue comes in.  In my deployment scenario, I wanted to deploy multiple individual Goodlink 5 servers in various locations/offices around the world.  The limitation here is network bandwidth and latency, due to the fact that the offices getting these Goodlink 5 servers are spread across the globe on various speed networks, and some of the offices in Asia for example, have very high network latency and bandwidth is limited.  To help with this situation, I asked if it would be advisable to use multiple GoodAdmin mailboxes, one for each new Goodlink 5 server, that way, each location that got a Goodlink 5 server and had a local Exchange server, would get its own GoodAdmin mailbox homed on the local Exchange server.  This would increase performance, reduce the time it takes to re-connect all the mailboxes in the event of a reboot, and provided a better solution for my deployment project. 

When you use a single consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox, and you have more than one Goodlink server which is connected to the network on a low bandwidth link or one that has high latency, it is a good idea to have separate GoodAdmin mailboxes, to keep network traffic local to the office in question.  Its faster, more reliable, and if the central Exchange server that houses the consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox were to go down, all your Good Messaging servers would be rendered useless until the Exchange server is back online and the GoodAdmin mailbox is available again. 

So my scenario of using more than a single consolidated GoodAdmin mailbox was a good idea, still works well and does help with performance and all the other reasons I mentioned above.  The drawback is that in this configuration, from within the Good Messaging console, you only see the server you are connected to under the “Good messaging servers” folder.  This also means that the “change good messaging server” option is grayed out and unavailable.  The fact is that the GoodAdmin mailbox is what keeps track of how many servers you have, but they all have to be configured to use the same GoodAdmin mailbox in order for the server to “know” about the other Good Messaging servers you have in your network.  This basically means that the user migration option is not going to work for us. 

This is not a problem, its just an inconvenience.  And it would have been nice to have known this initially when I talked with Good support eariler.  Lately no matter what company I deal with, I usually end up getting conflicting information about their products and features based on who you talk to.  The first time I call and get info on something, I hear one thing, then when I am working on the deployment and have a question or problem and call back, I hear something completely different.  This is irritating and can cause some major problems for large projects. 

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. 

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

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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Free Active Directory Reporting Tool

This should come in handy for lots of people.  Need to get some reports out of your Active Directory system?  Then this tool can help, its a called SmartR from Imanami, and its free.  There are additional report packs you could buy, but I’ve found it comes with just about everything I would need. It has a good wizard interface and can generate nicely formatted reports in a flash.  Output options are HTMl, XLS and XML. 

I needed to generate a report of all my AD users and find which groups they belonged to.  To be more specific, I was trying to get a list of all our Distribution lists and find out who was in each one.  I was able to accomplish both reports quickly and easily with this tool.