Author Archive for KW

Long Live Exchange Public Folders!

Back in 1996, Microsoft introduced Public Folders as a replacement for social aliases, and was “designed from the ground up to enhance group collaboration applications” (per this Lane Severson blog post)

By the time that Exchange 2003 was released (13 years ago!), however,  the rumors that public folders would be discontinued in a future release of Exchange were swirling around. Take for instance this WindowsIT Pro post from 2004:

The handwriting has been on the wall for public folders for a year or two. I first heard a Microsoft speaker strongly discourage use of public folders at the MEC 2002 conference. An administrator who attended the same session was in a state of near panic because her university has thousands of public folders in active use.

In a TechRepublic 2010 post it was declared that public folders would probably be gone by Exchange 2013:

Since before the release of Exchange 2007, Microsoft has been telling us that public folders will eventually be discontinued. This hasn’t happened just yet though. Public folders are alive and well in Exchange 2010. Even so, public folders probably won’t be supported in the next version of Exchange.

So here we are in 2016, and guess what? Not only are public folders still around, Microsoft has decided that “public folders are great” per this Microsoft Technet FAQ:

No. Public folders are great for Outlook integration, simple sharing scenarios, and for allowing large audiences to access the same data.

And on February 1, 2016, Microsoft announced they will be increasing the number of public folder mailboxes in Exchange 2016 from 100 to 1,000!

Happy 20th birthday to Public Folders!

Windows Live Mail Leaves Empty Temp Folders Behind

Are you using Windows Live Mail?

If so, you may have discovered lots of strange subfolders within your user’s Temp folder on your computer, with a name format like this {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxx} :

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The clue is that all these folders are empty, and there is one for every day that you use Windows Mail. Apparently, the Windows Mail app does not properly clean up after itself.

As these folders all are empty (zero) in size, they really are not taking up disk space.

But, if you’re like me, I just don’t like seeing junk files hanging around. It’s perfectly fine to delete those empty folders:

  • Drill down to C: –> Users –> your username –> AppData –> Local
  • Highlight all those folders and click Delete.

If you got time on your hands, I’m sure there’s a powerscript or batch file somewhere on the Internet that you could use to do the same thing, and schedule it to run once a week. If you find one that works, please let me know!

This computer will soon stop receiving Google Chrome updates

If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista or Windows 2003 Server, and using the Google Chrome browser, you may have noticed a new warning (nag) message displaying every time you start up Chrome:

The computer will soon stop receiving Google Chrome updates because Windows XP and windows Vista will no longer be supported.

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There is a simple way to disable this warning message, by adding: –disable-infobars” option to your Google Chrome shortcut icon.

Here are the steps to do this:

  • Right click on your Google Chrome shortcut icon (either on your desktop or the desktop’s taskbar) and then click Properties
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  • In the Target box, go to the end of the line, press the spacebar once and then type:  –disable-infobars
  • To be very clear, what you will type is:
    spacebar dash dash, the word disable, another dash, then the word infobars
  • Click Apply, then OK
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  • Restart Google Chrome

Setup BlackBerry Priv for Exchange Email

I have a customer that still uses Blackberry phone with their SBS 2011 server with Exchange 2010. Their previous BlackBerry 10 connected up with no problems to Exchange and ActiveSync several years ago. The owner recently replaced his BB10 with a newer BB Priv.

When he went to configure his new phone to Exchange, however, it was asking him to install a SSL security certificate, which the previous phone did not require.

Listed below are the steps we took to get his phone connected to Exchange.

Two things to note before we begin:

  • The person with the phone needs to setup up an alternate email (such as GMail) on the phone before proceeding. The reason will become obvious below.
  • You need access to the SBS/Exchange server to export the SSL certificate, and then email the exported certificate file to the user

So, let’s get started

Part 1 – From the SBS/Exchange Server, create an exported PFX certificate file

  1. From the server, open up MMC from an administrator level command prompt
  2. Select to load the Certificates snap-in to the local Computer account.
    (Note: if you do not know how to do this process, see this Microsoft article for detail instructions)
  3. Drill down Certificates –> Personal –> Certificates and locate your SSL certificate from the middle pane
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  4. Right click on the certificate, then select All Tasks –> Export
  5. Click Next –> Click Yes, export Private Key –> verify PFX format is selected
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  6. Enter a password when prompted (keep it short – very short, like ‘abc’)
  7. Click browse to assign a filename and select a location to save the exported file

Part 2 – Send PFX file to user’s alternate mail account

  1. Now, you need to email the PFX certificate file you just created to the user, sending it as an attachment to the user’s alternate email account on his or her phone.
  2. How you do this is up to you – I’m sure you can figure out this step.

Part 3 – User creates Exchange account and installs SSL certificate on the phone

The following instructions are general in nature, and not specific, because I did not do these steps myself. My customer was able to do it, with just a couple of corrections that I was able to walk him through by phone.

  1. First, user should open up the Gmail (or other) account on their phone, locate the email you sent them, and select to save (download) the attachment to the phone. Just download the file, do not try to install it.
  2. Now let’s start creating the Exchange account.
  3. Select Settings –> Accounts –> Add Accounts –> Exchange
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Phone will go out and check things, and should come back asking for more server information.
  6. For your username: enter DOMAINNAME\USERNAME
  7. When prompted, select to install a certificate, and located the file you saved.
  8. For the server name/address, enter the URL you would use to access your OWA account – such as remote.servername.com or mail.servername.com.
  9. Select SSL/TLS (Accept all certificates)

At this point, it should start setting up your email account. Good luck!

KB3119142 Keeps Reinstalling–Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 Update 4

I was working on installing some Microsoft updates on computers at a customer site this evening. Several computers, all Windows 10 O/S, were reporting that KB3119142 was being (re)installed successfully every day.

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The solution was very simple (with a tip of a hat to a TenForums post):

  • Open up Programs & Features (from Control Panel)
  • Locate and click to select the “Microsoft C++ 2012 Update 4 Redistributable Package X64”
  • Click to Change, then click to Repair
  • Reboot the workstation
  • Rerun Microsoft Update and you should be fine!

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Scam Alert for Fake Phone Calls from Microsoft Support

It seems to go in waves … phone calls supposedly from a Microsoft person informing you that your computer is infected or has been compromised. We’re in such a wave as I have recently had several people tell me that they have receive such phone calls.

The red flag that this is a scam is when the person calling you says that there will be a fee involved for fixing it.  Microsoft clearly states on their web site:

“You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”

Bottom line: Any unsolicited phone call from anyone reporting that your computer is infected with a virus, or has been hacked or compromised, should be considered a scam. I would advise that you quickly hang up on them. Do not try to talk your way through it. It’s not worth it.

Here are three links that contain more information on these scams. The first is Microsoft’s own warning on these scams, the other two identify they type of things these scammers will do to try to convince you that they are real and that they have intimate knowledge about your computer.

Finally, here is a true story from a customer of mine who reported that this happened to him this morning:

I got a phone call at home from a man who says his name is John, and claiming to be from Windows Licensing Technical Support.  It sounded like he was calling from India, and I can hear other people in the background making similar calls.  He says that my computer has been sending a message to their servers indicating that there is an issue with my computer and license.  He then asks for me to turn on my computer, and for a fee that he can help correct the issue. 

I asked him to read to me the license number that he is registering as having an issue.  After some push back (he wanted me to read him my license number), hesitation, and almost a minute for him to look it up, he finally rattles off a long serial number (888DC … D7B062).  Already I know that this isn’t a real windows license number so I ask him for their number and I’ll call back if I really have an issue.  He gives me 209-894-0429 as their support line.  The number which showed up on my caller ID was 9-9876.

StorageCraft Announces TA Investment

I’ve never posted about financial business dealings with vendors before. Home

However, when I read the press release that StorageCraft had signed an agreement to a rather large $$$ investment with a private equity firm, I thought “Good for you!”.

Why?

I’ve been a long time (+10 years) user and proponent of StorageCraft for backup and disaster recovery solutions. Their solutions have been reliable and trustworthy. Makes me happy to see that a vendor that I’ve relied on is still successful and moving forward.

That’s all.

Windows 10 Upgrade Prompt Coming Soon to a Domain Near You–Possibly

It’s hard to believe it was 5 1/2 months ago (July 2015) that Windows 10 was released. at that time Microsoft also announced a one year window of opportunity to upgrade your Windows 7/8.1 computer to Windows 10 for free.

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To encourage easy access to the Windows 10 upgrade, home PC’s (non-domain joined corporate/business PC’s) started seeing the Get Windows 10 (GWX) prompt at the bottom of their screen.

Microsoft has now announced that many business PC’s will soon be seeing the GWX taskbar icon and upgrade notification prompts. Eligible PC’s will be those domain joined PC’s running Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, or Windows 8.1 Pro. PC’s running Windows 7 / 8.1 Enterprise are not eligible for the free upgrade.

But to receive the Get Windows 10 prompt, eligible computers must be receiving updates directly from Windows Update.

To word it differently, if your computers are receiving their updates from Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), then they will NOT see the Get Windows 10 prompts.

For more information, check out the article at ZDNet.

Defrag QuickBooks Company File to Improve Performance

One of my customers is running QuickBooks in a manufacturing environment. Their QB company file had grown to over 900MB in size! Many of their regular reports were taking over 5 minutes to load, and one large transaction report was taking 15-20 minutes to load.

We switched the QB company file to single user mode. We then ran Microsoft’s SysInternal Contig utility on it (using the –a option for analysis only) and found that the company file was heavily fragmented — 6,678 fragments to be exact!

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After making a backup of the company file, we then ran the Contig utility and it reduced the number of fragments from 6,678 to 1,555. It took the utility about ten minutes to complete. A second pass of Contig then took it down to 1 fragment!

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The result?

According to the customer, the 15-20 minute transaction report ran in 4-5 minutes. and the regular 5 minute reports completed almost instantly.

Sorry, Something Went Wrong with Yammer Invite

I was setting up a private Yammer group (external network) recently. The first three people I sent invites to were able to register and sign in with no problem. So with that success in hand, I went ahead and sent invites to the other 16 people.

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Wouldn’t you know? 3 of the next 4 people who tried to use the invite button from the email they received, told me that they were not able to register. They said that they were getting an error message: “Sorry, something went wrong and we couldn’t update your information. Please try again.”

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Of the three with this problems, two have AOL email addresses, and the third a GMail address. Sure enough, when I tried to register using my AOL or GMail address, I encountered the same error.

I then searched the Yammer Community Forum (http://help.yammer.com) and found a post where several other people have been reporting this same issue since Dec 22, 2015. Yammer Support responded to me last night and said that this is a known issue and that they are currently working on a fix.

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That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there is a workaround!

I asked those users that had encountered the error to pull up the invite email on their smart phone, and click on the invite link from their phone. Success! They were able to complete the Yammer initial sign-in process.

I will post a follow-up when I hear that this issue has been fixed.