Blog Archives

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:

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
HSCUpd.exe -i

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

HSCUpd.exe -i
HSCUpd.exe -i

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


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. 

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.

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)—————————-——-


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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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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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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.

RSS feed post limits

This is something that both annoys me and and yet I can understand its reason for existing.  Have you ever subscribed to an RSS feed and its limited to only a few posts/items (lets say 15 is a standard)?  I can certainly understand the need to limit RSS feeds content, there are plenty of reasons why a reasonable number for the history limit is a good idea.  However, 15 is a bit low, especially on sites that offer news or updates.  I recently subscribed to a feed that had posts of a humorous nature, and it limtied me to the last 15 entries.  If I want to see more of the history, I have to go to their website.  15 is also a low number, for a site that may post a few times as week, it won’t take long and I’ll start to miss posts if I don’t frequently check that feed.  On my blog, I allow the last 100 posts to be downloaded, and don’t mis-read me here, that is way too high, especially for a personal blog.  I’d suggest something like 25 or higher for personal feeds, 50 or higher for a site that posts a few times as week in any category, and more if the site posts many times a week, or even per day.

Better fitness

On Saturday I joined a local fitness club.  I have been entertaining the idea of getting a membership to a fitness club for a while now, but when I started out looking for one, I didn’t want one of those professional performance places where its a bunch of hulk hogans running around and all that.  So I found a family oriented club and went to check it out on Saturday morning.  I was a little intimidated by the size of the place, but once the manager started showing me around, it was really quite nice.  Everyone was friendly and they offer a lot of cool programs that come as part of the membership.  It is a bit expensive, but my plan is to stick with the club for about a year, get myself in better shape and then try to get some equipment that I can use to maintain my fitness level at home.  I need to go at least 3 times a week which is going to be tough with my schedule.  I realize that if I am going to do this, its going to cost something besides money, and that is my family time.  I’m going to have to go at night twice a week and once on Saturday morning. 

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My Pick for screen recording

I have tried several software packages to do screen recording, and I must say that my favorite by far is Camtasia studio by TechSmith.  Their software is visually appealing with a modern and intuitive interface.  It also outputs your projects in a variety of configurable formats and makes your work look very professional.  Several neat features I enjoy are smart focus and a neat little mouse trick.  With Smart focus, the video can zoom and pan as you move your mouse around while recording, this way the viewers get a close up view of what you are doing and you are not wasting as much viewing space with unused area on your desktop.  I also like the feature of using the hotkeys to pause recording so you can make changes or do other tasks, and when you un-pause, the mouse is returned exactly to where it was when you paused the recording, eliminating the annoying mouse jumps you get in many other packages. 

Its not free, and in fact is one of the most expensive solutions I looked at.  But the user experience is ver good and the output is the best I’ve seen in screen recording packages.  This is a great tool for many professions and specific tasks, but particularly useful in IT as you can record tutorials or how-to videos with ease, and make them very easily viewable and portable!