Friday, June 25, 2010

#ff OK I might have overdone it today

But in case you missed any of them…  And they were in no particular order
#ff @dhmorton - for a wittier, informed, realistic view of life
#ff @jonhoneyball - tech, music, and amazingly informed.
#ff @chrisbulow - never met, great company here on twitter
#ff @thesidsmith - the encyclopedia of King Crimson
#ff @markwilsonit - fellow #ITTU5 'er, great tech blog
#ff @keithshering - great thinker and business shaper. Rugby fan - come on you Saints
#ff @bletchleypark - for all things Bletchley - Computing's Birthplace
#ff @davidnobbs - Reggie Perrin's creator - 'nuff said
#ff @guidofawkes - fun+informative jaundiced view of the body politic
#ff @RAFDuxford1940 - Battle Of Britain RAF Station, recounting the battle in realtime
#ff @quiggles - motorsport, good egg and a fellow fan of beer o'clock
#ff @DianaInHeaven - acerbic, irreverent, funny. Not for the faint hearted
#ff @theRetronaut - delightful views of times gone by
#ff @marypcbuk - one half of a great tech journalist pair @sbisson - the other half!
#ff @eileenb - for all things Social.  And jam.
#ff @thingsgretasays - to experience the fun of parenthood without the downside
#ff @exitthelemming - insight into a world of which i know little, fellow stats & nature fan
#ff @backupmytweets - help for the tweeting maven
#ff @maryjofoley - everything you wanted to know about Microsoft, and they didn't want you to ask
#ff @ruskin147 - BBC's top tweeting tech journalist
#ff @marilliononline - well, what do you expect?!
#ff @budleysalterton - regular amusing interjections
#ff @timbo_baggins - really liked my King Crimson 5.1 twitter reviews
#ff @happygeek - great insight into the interweb, tech and rugby!
#ff @teched_europe - the premier Microsoft learning event
#ff @XH558 - keeping the Vulcan flying
#ff @qikipedia - for a wealth of interesting facts
#ff @Dr_Black - campaigner for Bletchley Park, BCS Women, and so much more

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Think you are clever #Outlook2010 ? No #fail

I was answering an email, and got a strange error message (see the first marked area in the image)
So I clicked on the message and it brought up an entirely unrelated message, but the key was the subject (also marked).  It seems Outlook looks for all messages with the same subject IRRESPECTIVE of addressees.
This attaches to my concerns about Exchange 2010 expressed a while back -  It seems to reinforce my concerns that the linked messages are connected by a crude text comparison of the subject, rather than a more sophisticated tracking system.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

#VMware #vCentre Server booting too fast with co-located SQL Server

If you run VMware vCentre Server then when you restart the server you may find that the services for VMware end up in an apparent deadly embrace and just go horribly wrong for you.
I have had this recently and there was (initially) no sense to it.
Essentially the problem is that the vCentre Server Service tries to start the (VMware customised) Microsoft ADAM LDAP service (called VMwareVCMSDS), the SQL Server and the vCentre Service concurrently.
Now I don’t pretend to know quite what’s going on, but the behaviour looks like a deadly embrace with the services staying in “Starting” state, sometimes stopping and starting again, and then failed to get to started status.
I found by experimentation that the manual starting of services seemed to work most of the time (but sometimes I had to hop to the Task Manager to manually kill processes).  Then I found this:
This proves the theory that I had, and recommends the SQL and ADAM services should be set as services that vCentre Server is dependent on – it includes all the instruction, so I’ll let you read that.  But a couple of thoughts:
  • If your vCentre Server is on Windows 2008, the Delayed Automatic Startup may be good for you (although I think I’d still put the dependencies in, as if the boot of the services is slow…
  • A separate SQL server will help (although if the 2 servers are virtualised then you will need to manage their startup relationship)
  • You’d think VMware would have realised this and put it in the product…
  • Oh, and don’t expect to find any meaningful error messages in the event logs either when solving this one.
Another weekend lesson over for me J (at least I was able to fix another .NET Framework patching problem VM as well though -!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

When altering service startup options

If you read my previous post on sorting .NET I hope you will have noted the technique of setting services to manual or disabled whilst working on a server to prevent both slow startups and failures (or accidental user use of the service) during remediation.
Hoist, petard…
I’ve being trying to sort my vCentre boot problem this evening.  Event logs and other stuff not helping.  Eventually… …spotted I’d left a crucial service in disabled mode.  Nice of Windows to tell me a dependant service was not started!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

.NET Framework patching failures, and how to fix them

I’ve experienced a number of machines recently that just obstinately will not take the most recent patches for the 2.0 and 3.5 version of the .NET Framework.  Either patching through tools or directly through Microsoft Update just doesn’t work.
I’ve developed a process now for fixing this, it’s painful – and if it’s a windows 2003 server and you let it try to do its normal job in the meantime it might go horribly slow in the middle!  My biggest problem was a physical server that ran Backup Exec – when I was mid fix the whole server borked and the reboot took about 90 minutes – ouch.
So to the steps, firstly download the tools you need:
Now to fix things
  • Whatever function the box is installed for (and I’ve seen this problem on desktops and servers), pick a good time to take the box down – this normally takes about an hour
  • Take backups – several, including system state so that you can recover if it goes wrong.  If you are working in a virtualised world then snapshots may well be your friend (and worth taking a few during the process)
  • Configure the server to not run any facilities on it after reboots (set services to disabled or manual – I prefer disabled), remove items from the startup menu and so on.  You will be rebooting this computer a few times and you want it to be quick, and you don’t want (what will be) temporarily broken apps to fail to start.
  • Run the Windows Installer Cleanup (don’t be worried about the Microsoft Office branding – this is the right tool!) - for each .NET framework listed

  • In this case select each of the first 3 items, and click remove.   You will see command windows opened minimised (have a look if you are interested!)
  • When all instances of the .NET framework are removed, run the .NET Framework Uninstaller.  The application does not install it is a directly executed file
  • You will be asked to confirm you want to run it, and then confirm the licence. 

  • You can use the drop down to clean up each version 1 at a time, or just select all.  If you h
Editor’s note – in theory you can run this first.  I don’t because a) it takes a lot longer that way, b) the .NET Framework uninstaller tended to fail for me on some machines
  • Check the logs, and then assuming all is well, reboot the machine.
  • Now you are rebooted, install each of the .NET frameworks you should have (on Windows 2003 server I have 2.0, 3.0. and 3.5) one at a time (this will be time consuming).
  • Once the last framework is installed, reset your applications to work correctly and reboot
  • After reboot run Microsoft Update (or your patching tool of choice) and you should find the Frameworks fully patch and all is well again.
  • Depending on choices and operating system – you may get a reboot after this, so your choice as to when to return functionality to the machine may be dependent on this possibility.
There are no guarantees and your mileage might vary, but this is the most successful approach I have found.

All usual caveats apply !

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

#Outlook 2010 First impressions

OK, because of all the other projects in hand I ducked Office 2010 in beta, but last night left the in-place upgrade running.
So, impressions?
The first start of Outlook identified an addin that was not playing ball – fair enough, try once, it fails, stop it the next time, that’s fine.
But, an upgrade immediately after first start “Your mailbox is being optimised. Performance may be affected while this one time optimization is in progress”. Fair enough – but how about a progress indicator Microsoft?
Not happy 1
Whilst it has attempted to match my pane view, I find all my Public Folder Favourites that were shown in my favourite folders are missing.  FAIL.
Not Happy 2
Why has the sorting order on my folders changed?  I have an “Unread by Date” favourite.  So why is it now in “From” order.  There’s no need to do that, and no justification for doing that. The clue is in the name of the folder…
Not Happy 2
And what’s all this “updating server” nonsense once I am running and causing Outlook to hang?
And REALLY Not Happy 3
In previous versions there was a drop down combo box from which you could select unread or all messages (along with other options).  Whilst there is a filter button on the ribbon – this creates an unread search, throws you to the search tab on the ribbon, and is generally ‘orrible.  All I want to do is obscure read emails from the current view – it’s NOT A SEARCH!!!

Monday, June 07, 2010

#Humax updates coming soon - more details here:

A software update for the PVR 9200T is coming soon - OTA dates can be found here- Humax's Facebook page
Update will be transmitted overnight so your unit should just find your unit is updated in the morning.  9150 and 9300 updates coming soon.
Bug fixes seem to be the order of the day – including the fix for units freezing (thank goodness).

Not a footie fan but...

But if you, your colleagues, your clients are going be change their work plans because of the Football World Cup, then then you might want to visit this page and download a
BBC Football World Cup Calendar

It's an Outlook calendar with all the matches, locations and channel information for the Football World Cup starting this week.

I've certainly a couple of clients who will become unavailable near matches, so will avoid calling them then!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

#OFCOM - how to solve silent calls

OFCOM are still fussing about the problem of marketing companies generating more calls by computer than their staff can pick up. This leads to the silent call (or if you are lucky (!), a pre-recorded message).

The idea is to limit silent calls from any 1 firm to one domestic address to no more than 2 in a 24 hour period.

I've got a much simpler idea. Force all compute generated calls that are not immediately passed to a call centre staffer to play a short message to the recipient asking them to press # to prevent further calls. The called number then to be shared with all other companies performing the same nuisance within a week. As a bonus, the if you press * then you are added to the telephone preference service ( system and will no longer get normal marketing calls.

This will allow the hassled homeowner (or sometimes frightened pensioner) to opt out of the problem, and force the marketing firms to properly resource their call centres, or accept that sometimes their hardworked staff might just get a break.