Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unable to open the free/busy information.

Outlook, and more so when combined with Microsoft Exchange, can surprise even a veteran administrator with the number of messages and things that could happen. A new message displayed to an average user can trigger instant change to what might be another ordinary day as a chase ensues for answers to uncommon problems.

My last post about a strange error coming from either Outlook or Exchange server was back aways here - http://remotesupportpc.blogspot.com/2007/05/calendaring-agent-failed-in-message.html . Although that was my last post, it was not a last error message displayed.

I did want to post this open a recently displayed one however. Just so it's available to any followers of my postings and maybe just to add another resource to the web for anyone searching an answer to the problem. An answer which I used myself and I know it works. It's not a re-iterated answer found in a forum where the support forum poster just copied and pasted it from another forum or site without haven actually tried the solution they are recommending themselves.

What solved this problem for me was just running outlook /cleanfreebusy. So simply, on the users computer for which you would like to chare the calendar, and have completed the steps to do so, close Outlook if it is running then start it again using the command line switch /cleanfreebusy.

This will, in almost all cases, solve the problem. Don't waste too much time checking on the Exchange server for the cause to this problem, you won't find an aswner there untill you run the simple command line option for Microsoft Outlook. I almost all cases this is a user side problem and should first be delt with on the local computer on which MS Outlook is running on.

Outlook creates some local files for the calendar and they can get "dirty" the information in the files stored ont he computer and the Exchange server are not lined up right. The calandar information needs to be refreshed. The solution for the message "unable to open the free/busy information" applies to Outlook 2000, 2002, and 2003.

In some case, for Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office service pack 1 needs to be installed.

Remember the service pack will need to be applied on the on the computer of the user for whom the calendar is being viewed or an entry is being created/modified, not for the user receiving the error.

If using Outlook 2003, take a look to see if Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Service Pack 2 (SP2) is installed for Outlook.

To determine if either SP1 or SP2 is installed on the computer:
  • Start MS Outlook then click Help in the menu bar.
  • From the dropdown menu, choose About Microsoft Office Outlook.
  • On the top line of the About Microsoft Office Outlook window, look for SP1 or SP2.

If neither Service Pack 1 nor Service Pack 2 appears on the first line in the about window that's displayed, install SP1.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Computer Remote Support Software

Technology has become not just a part of everyday life, but has nearly consumed it for many people. People most especially effected by the technological infiltration of into all corners of life have been the computer desktop and server support professionals.

Once, during the earlier days of the transition from the non-tech every living to the days of all things technology, the requests for assistance with a technological hurdle by a co-worker were mostly confined to the the office. With the people who really were into technology taking on tech challenges after the work day completed. Most other folks who left the office would go home to their non high tech life styles and do whatever they did without the burden of clicking or touch screening or scrolling on any thing. Now, it's not just the techies who go home and tinker with high tech devices, it's a larger percent of the population.

It started with the home computer users then the casual surfers and now it's become an unstoppable train of technology that's effecting most aspects of life. It's not just the pros or business owners who can't stop working, it's all ages and types. It seems one of the most natural tendencies for humans is to interact with their own kind. To communicate to someone what they are thinking, what they are doing or planning to do. This need to communicate has gone far beyond the instant messengers, of which there are dozens, all fighting for users to slam ads into the faces of, to text messaging. This all doesn't stop on the computers as we know. Just recently in a big provider phone store, I noticed that there were no phones left that were a basic calling device. They all had cameras, video, Internet access, beautiful color screens, loads of graphics and capabilities. They are becoming more like mini computers. Traditional computers just have people stuck in one place mostly as they are to large to just slip into a pocket and go.

All the capabilities are now being stuffed into more mobile devices and they are selling with no slow down in sight. All to just satisfy the need to communicate in some fashion whether words or pictures, with someone else. Support, and remote support (briefly covered in a prior post), for these devices has changed also. Especially the mobile workers. They once had a computer that was connected to (I won't say dial-up Internet connections or dial-up connections directly to the office) but to the Internet and they someway connected into the company network and they did their work. Now remote or mobile workers have voice too on their desktops at home or wherever they're travelling (more stuff to support). Internet speeds provided by ISP providers are astonishing and almost imaginable in the early years of the Internet evolution.

Computer support mostly took place during regular business hours with the occasional call form the work-aholic from home. Now, support calls come from all directions and from many "regular" computer users. They are from the most simplest of problems to diagnose and troubleshoot to more complicated networking or application issues. Computer remote support software has changed too to match the needs of the mobile and remote work force. Once, a simple computer remote support application was installed on the computer that was located at home, and really didn't move, and the tech could just "dial-in" with computer support software and have remote control of the computer to fix the problem. The computer remote support software application was non-changing the connection didn't change much and was almost always available and the same. Now computer remote support has changed to include PDAs, tablet PCs, desktops of course, computers, towers, servers, dynamic IP addresses, static addressing, etc. It's like hitting a moving target as many users will even have more than one computer to work from. The days of computer remote support software just being on a single computer that didn't move and changed really slowly have evolved into a frenzy of quickly asserting where the person is and what's their connection speed and how to connect quickly.

Although many older users still refer to remotely connecting to computers as "dialing-in" it has come far from the ancient tones and flickering light of modems and dial-up connection times. especially when considering that a phone can have more bandwidth that the old computers once did.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Adtran Atlas 550

The Adtran Atlas 550 series of IAD devices must be one of the most reliable hardware networking devices available on the market today. this series has been available and is in so mnay networks it's hard to find another device in this category as an equal. I have one of these units and I've installed them for customers to. They are easy to program and configure ( some good foundational knowledge assists greatly). They are modular and support a large number of technologies.

My Adtran Atlas 550 has two v.35 interfaces two t1/PRI modules and 4 port BRI and a another network module. I've used it for simulating frame-relay networks and also setting of equipment for customers before I going on site to the customer's office. Also used it for testing equipment. and have installed several for customers as a channel bank and a multi-point CSU/DSU.

They are reliable and because they're modular purchases for only what's needed but having room for expansion is a no brainer. I recommend the Adtran Atlas 550 to anyone. Cisco routing and switching is reliable too but they are so much more pricey than Adtran.
Adtran's support is very good too and that's very important when you have a network down emergency or even during installation. A smooth installation is very important too for customer perception and confidence building. It's good to have good network techincal support that can be counted on.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Desktop Remote Support Software

Desktop Remote Support Software

Supporting multiple desktops dispersed in a large geographical areas is challenging. In some cases, the geographic area the remote desktop computers are located are beyond the techs local or immediate area, they're globally spread out. I have posted some of the advantages remote tech support in the past (another post about supporting desktops remotely and another of pc remote support software)

Desktop remote support software provide for efficient access to desktops connected all over the world. Desktop remote support software give tech support the reach they need to connect to and provide the remote support of software applications and computer operating system support. Desktop remote support software inherently gives control to the technician enabling them to have the same desktop access as if they were right in front of the computer desktop performing the same tasks to solve the problem or add features or software to the remote desktop PC.

Often, desktop remote support software requires the end-user to give permission to the remote technician. This is a security feature built into many such applications for obvious desktop security reasons. One of which is to not enable a tech to access a computer with out the users knowledge. Other application of desktop remote support software has end-user acknowledgement as an option and often it's turned off allowing a technician to provide remote desktop support during off-hours, without the consent or knowledge of the remote desktop user.

This type of desktop remote support software is usually installed by a technician while on site or remotely as well. The installation will consist of a service being added to the computers list of service running ion the background and will also have a taskbar icon associated with it. This would be in fact the only indication that the desktop remote support program is installed at all particularly if the notify the desktop user of a remote desktop connection option has been turned off to the tech support group or person.

While there are many desktop remote support software and options, anyone can concede that the best way to provide remote support to desktops connected to the Internet anywhere is via desktop remote support software.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Calendaring agent failed in message save notification with error 0x80040219

Calendaring agent failed in message save notification with error 0x80040219
Exchange 2003 SP2

I had an error message like the one above show up on the exchange server application log. I never seen this message before and was kind of alarmed at what it could be. The details in the log entry pointed out inconsistency problems with several public folders. The original cause and description of the problem that required me to go to this clients office was they said their Internet access and email (and whole network) was running slowly.

Less than half an hour after the call, I spoke with the customer. They said the problem had go away but would like to know what caused it. I dug into the logs first and saw several errors similar to:

Calendaring agent failed in message save notification with error 0x80040219 on the Exchange 2003 server.

At first it didn't click-in as to why this error would slow down everything including Internet access bu then remembered that this customer had a replica server of the exchange box off-site. That site was connected via a VPN. The error had to do with inconsistencies found in the database. Exchange will normally try to fix inconsistencies and be on its merry way - and it did. In this case however, the public folder calendar that contained the inconsistencies had to be replicated to the the other server. The public folder was large and the transfer slowed Internet access down considerably.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

[Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Cannot open database '(unknown)'

I encountered as error such as this one on a customer's web server. The server is Microsoft Windows 2000 with service pack 4 and it is running IIS5. The hardware on which the IIS services run is an Dell. Since the hardware is not the issue or subject of this post I won't add much details about it. It does have some miles on it but overall it seems to be working fine.

The problem is when a web surfer hits the web server to access it's pages, the page loads but any connections the page makes to some access databases ( a real hack programmer did most of the vb-script in the pages and the access mdb file access) a variation the error:

[Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Cannot open database '(unknown)'

would display along with the page. I have been n dozens of forums and followed many of the suggestions made to correct this problem. I updates the ODBC drivers to the latest update, I've updates the MDAC, I tried rebuilding the DSN, etc..

For any of you who have come across this page while searching for a solution to this problem, check this out. I solved this by resetting the security setting on the IIS web server. The top level of the tree when looking through IIS Manager MMC Slap-in. If you mdb file is local to the server and you have already given the anonymous user all the NTFS fights it needs but you are still having this issue, then go ahead and reset the permissions on the IIS web server. That will help solve the problem. You can do it using the permissions wizard.

You may have to tweak things a bit afterwards to be familiar with some of the customer setting changes you may have made. For example the default page, if you had it set for index.html, it will be reset to default.htm. You may even encounter after you try what I just said would solve your problem, that when you try to load pages on the server through a browser you get prompted for enter a login ID and password. This is because integrated NT authentication was turned on. You would want to set that to off or on but let IIS determine the password for anonymous login.

Remote Tech Support Software

Remote tech support software is one of the most useful tools for desktop and server technicians. It allows them to get to remote computer problems quickly through the Internet. With remote tech support software, a tech can solve problems remotely over the web. Those problems are not confined to desktop, PC, computer or server problems only. Once the tech has remote control access of the remote computer they can then login to networking equipment such as routers, firewalls and managed switches to make configuration changes, upload new software or firmware and just about anything else they need to do.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Multiple Calendars On BlackBerry Handhelds

Blackberry handhelds at least the ones I've seen that operate with a Blackberry Enterprise server and run with on Java platform (4.x), do not and cannot display multiple user's calendars. I'm holding one of the blackberry handhelds in my hand right now that wasn't able to nor could it currently display any calendar but my own (there is a hack method from what BB support told me be it doesn't work 100% right, it is not smooth to update, and they do not support it).

It's a very useful feature to have on a PDA, the ability to view several different shared calendars. I've seen the setup at attorney's offices. The calendars are made up of not a persons own calendar but those of various court calendars. Since many attorneys, at least in my neck of the woods, don't present their cases in just one court or in one location, they often go to several different court houses. Having the calendar for each of the various court houses and having them update automatically through the wireless network ti the PDA, like Verizon, Cingular, Sprint, etc., let's them be more productive and efficient.

I've both seen and setup multiple calendars through the use of public folders on Exchange where each court is a folder of calendar type. One attorney's office had their lawyers on 5 separate calendars. The girls in the office could update their schedules and they would get them almost instantly. This was done with PDA' that had a windows operating system on them.

Another attorney office which I support wanted to do the same but they had already purchased Blackberry handhelds as their PDAs. Well, when asked to setup exchange in their office and a blackberry enterprise server with the goal of setting up multiple calendars, I found out that it can;t be done. So the bottom line is currently blackberry handhelds even with a blackberry enterprise server cannot display multiple calendars on the handhelds. It was stressed by blackberry support that this feature may be added in the future but as of right now, BB Enterprise server version 4.1, it can't be done.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Send As and Send on Behalf of Using Outlook and Exchange 2003

Configure Exchange 2003 / 2000 to allow Send As User or Send on Behalf of
To give a user rights to Send As perform the following steps:

This is a common scenario. There's a manager or other employee like a top sales rep that needs to have others send email on their behalf or for them. Rather than having the person who is going to send the email go to their desktop and compose the email to send, they could send email for the other user right from their own desktop.
The surprise here is that although you may have configured full mailbox access in Exchange settings and the user can open the other users mailbox in Outlook on their desktop, the email sent still bounce back with the message stating the user is not allowed to send.That's because it there is another checkbox that needs to be checked to send for another user in the user security tab.

  1. Open Active Directory Users. This doesn't have to be from your Exchange server

  2. Enable viewing of Advanced Features in AD users and computers by licking View --> Advanced Features

  3. Find the user that you would like to have other users have rights to allow someone to send email as them (boss / manager)

  4. Double-click on the user name or id and select the Security Tab which is Typically top right box

  5. Add user that needs to "Send As" and grant them "Send As" permission. Permission change can take up to 15 minutes to go into effect.

    The user may now select "Sent From" in Outlook and the recipient will not be able to tell the email was not really sent on behalf of someone.


Remote Support


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Generic Host Process for Win32 Services Error

Generic Host Process for Win32 Services Error

So many XP systems have automatic updates enabled. So there are many users who have recently received the the Generic Host Process Error. If security update 873333 (MS05-012) was installed rither through automatic updates or through a manual system update, you may experience the message.

A supported hotfix is now available from Microsoft. Please use the link to Microsoft's support site below to download the hotfix. There are several version of the dowload so be careful which one you choose.

KnowledgeBase Article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/894391

Friday, January 19, 2007

Load balancing with Sonicwall TZ170

I've worked with a bunch of different types of firewalls and routers and although Sonicwall is not one of my most favorite products for some applications it does do something right at a fairly reasonable cost. The load balance option on the TZ170 works pretty good and it's easy to configure.

The unit can be configured to load balance in active/active mode, active/passive and active/active (this is my favorite). In active active, you can set the amount of data that passes though each ISP connection using percentage based or even load based. So with these configuration options one can split off data by preference or by bandwidth availability for each connection.

Remote Support