Blog Archives

Vista SP1 removes search from start menu

I find this highly annoying as a user who frequently has to search for files.  It seems Microsoft removed the search button from the start menu in Vista SP1.  In my case, I couldn’t even use the (windows key + F) to launch the search dialog.  I had to search around and found this registry hack which restores search to the context menu when you right-click on a folder, adding “search” as an option.  This is the only way I can currently access windows search.  Use the following information to restore the search contact menu item…

Open Regedit and navigate to

Rename the REG_SZ: ‘LegacyDisable’ value to something else like, say, ‘LegacyDisablex’

Exit registry editor and try right-clicking on a folder. You will see that “Search” appears again. You can now use this to access the windows search application. I still can’t get search back in my start menu just yet, but a little more google searching and I’m sure I’ll find a solution.


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

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:

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.

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.

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
< #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.

Communicator 2007 custom presence tool

I just came across this artile about a tool that automates the little known feature of custom presence in Communicator 2007.  Those of you familiar with other IM platforms will appreciate the incorporation of this feature in Communicator 2007.  Although as nice as this is, tell me Microsoft…why aren’t you building this into the GUI in the first place?

CTRL+ALT+DEL in remote desktop

I should have known this, but fortunately I’ve never needed to know it.  But recently someone asked me how to do this, and the answer I found is simple.  If you’re using Terminal Services/Remote desktop, the equivalent of CTRL-ALT-DEL for the Microsoft RDP client is CTRL-ALT-END.