Friday, September 28, 2007

Test drive SharePoint

One of the best ways to learn SharePoint (WSS) is to take a test drive. Office Online has provided a test environment to use online. All you have to do is click a few buttons and you can play around with a practice site in your browser.

To get to the test environment:

  1. It says test drive the 2007 Microsoft Office release, but SharePoint is included in the test drive.

  2. Click on the big orange button.

The Test Drive environment will open in a new browser window after you click the Launch Test Drive button. You'll see a few screens, you might be asked to click to connect to the server. There may be some lag time, so wait until you see the Setting up evaluation environment dialog box. It takes a while to get to the test environment.

Once it opens, you'll see the following screen:

Start with the first selection on the right-hand side of the screen, 'Overview of Windows SharePoint Services.'

Turn off Windows Security alert pop ups

Turning off Automatic Updates can cause Windows Security Alert pop-up balloons to appear in the taskbar tray every time you log on.

1. Turning off Automatic Updates causes error balloons featuring a red shield. Windows XP allows you to suppress any warnings that relate to Automatic Updates. You can also do this in Vista but, unfortunately, the newer OS forces you to turn off all security alerts just to suppress the Automatic Updates warnings.
To eliminate the warning balloons about Automatic Updates in both XP and Vista, take these steps:
Step 1. Double-click the red shield icon in the taskbar, or open the Control Panel and launch the Security Center.
Step 2. In the left pane or box, click Change the way Security Center alerts me.
Step 3. In XP, uncheck Automatic Updates and click OK. In Vista, select the second or third option.

Windows updates refusing to install most patches

If you find that Windows Update refuses to install most patches, you can register its missing DLLs yourself. This can be accomplished by manually entering seven commands (shown in Step 2, below) at a command prompt.
the /s switch runs the commands silently, freeing you from having to press Enter after each line
regsvr32 /s wuapi.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll
regsvr32 /s wups2.dll
regsvr32 /s wups.dll
regsvr32 /s wuweb.dll

Exception of type System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException

See this error when attempting to install Sharepoint V3.0 on Small Business Server 2003?
The config wizard gets to stage 5, but says:

Configuration Failed
Failed to Register SharePoint Services
An exception of type System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException was thrown. Additional exception information: Could not access the Search services configuration database.
If so try :

In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following subkey, and then delete it:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\WSS\Services\Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchService

-Run the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard again."

which seems to do the trick.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What a difference one less number can make

We have been usin gthe Microsoft Intelligence Mail Filter that is incorporated in Exchange Service Pack 2 for a while now. Previous we had the gateway set at 8/10 and the store set at 3/10. Basically, this means that if an inbound email scores 8 or above (on the spam scale) then the gateway action takes effect. In our case this was set to reject.
Now over the years because our CIAOPS web site had our email address on the front page we attracted lots and lots and lots of spam. This is why it is never a good idea to put plain text email addresses on web sites. admittedly most of the spam that did get through was getting caught by the junk mail filter and ending up in the junk mail folder in Outlook, but there was just so much. So rather than try and sort through it all the best bet was to crank down the gateway setting.
So we changed our gateway setting on the IMF from 8 to 7 ( just a single point ) and we went from > 1,000 spam emails a day to less than 10! Amazing eh? Just goes to show you gotta keep on top of these settings overtime. The other good thing is that it does prove how well the Microsoft Intelligent Mail Filter (IMF) does work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Personal Identity Provider

We recently picked up a Paypal security key to allow multi factor authentication on Paypal and Ebay. Wouldn't be nice if a security like this worked with all two factor autenication sites? Well, the closest thing is something called Openid which is an open source solution that provides a digital identity.
Now the great thing is that Verisign is now supporting Openid. If you go to and sign up for a free account you can then use the account on any site that uses Openid (which is growing fast) but the really great thing is that is this Verisign service allows you to link the Paypal security key. This means when you use an Openid site you can can also use your Paypal security key to provide addition security via a one way password that is generated by the Paypal security key.
Why is this so good? because now you only need one security dongle! If the Openid standard begins to catch on, which it looks like it will, then the standard web security option would be Openid and a Paypal security key. Wouldn't that be cool?

New video available

So we've done another YouTube video. You can find it by clicking here. This video looks at disk quotas under SBS 2003. It shows you typical issues that are evident under the standard SBS setup as well as how to customize these settings to suit your own needs.
As always we welcome feedback and suggestions about our videos which are all available at

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

VSS Hotfixes

From the Diva's blog.

A new Volume Shadow Copy Service update is now available that fixes various Volume Shadow Copy Service problems in Windows Server 2003:
Availability of a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) hotfix rollup package for Windows Server 2003 to resolve some VSS snapshot issues:
are needed for the server and an update is available to optimize the way that the Shadow Copy Client accesses shadow copies in Windows Server 2003 and in Windows XP:
is needed for the workstation

But if you have Windows Server SP2 installed, you have KB913648 already installed. 

Office 2003 Service Pack 3 released

Microsoft has release Service Pack 3 for Office 2003. Click here to go directly to the download. Click here for the Knowledge Base article on the Service Pack.
As yet we haven't tested it on our internal machines so we can't provide any feedback. Rest assured we will be applying soon and will provide some experiences then.
Ok, typically there are some issues after installing this service pack. See here or here for more information.

Friday, September 14, 2007

VPN passwords failing after applying ISA 2004 SP3 to SBS

So we apply ISA 2004 SP3 to a dual NIC SBS 2003 R2 Premium server, reboot, test RWW and OWA and everthing seems fine internally and externally.
Later on after we have left the site we try VPN'ing into the server and the login fails. Huh? So we try VPN'ing as another user with higher rights, still no go. This is a problem.
So back to the site we go. Firstly we think that maybe the ADSL modem/router needs firmware updating. We plug a laptop into the adsl/modem router and try VPN'ing to the second NIC and we get the same problem. So now we know that it is definately an ISA 2004 issue.
Next step is we try and run the Configure Remote Access wizard and it fails telling us to check the log. When we look at the log located at <DRIVE>:\program files\microsoft windows small business server\support\rraslog.txt we see at the bottom :
*** Saving changes and restarting services returned ERROR c0040393
*** CRRASCommit::ConfigureISA2k4() returned ERROR c0040393
*** Configure ISA2k4 returned ERROR c0040393
*** CRRASCommit::CommitEx returned ERROR c0040393
So we done some Googling and come across the following article :
Which says :
Go Start | Admininstration Tools | Domain Controller Security Policy
Select Local Policies | User rights assignments and the policies are displayed on the right hand side.
Check of the following policies by double clicking :
- Adjust memory quotas for a process
- Generate security audits
- Log on as a service
- Replace a process level token
and ensure they have NETWORK SERVICE displayed in the list of users and groups that are assigned to that policy setting. IF not then you need to add it.
Close the policy editor when complete. Run a GPupdate /force from the command prompt and reboot the server.
After the reboot we went back in and re-ran the remote access wizard which now completed. VPN access was restored.
From the article the issue is due to :
"Group Policy settings that were applied at the domain level have modified the policy settings for the Network Service account on the domain controller. This issue mostly occurs after you promote a member server to a domain controller, or on a migration from a Windows 2000 network where SBS 2003 was joined to the 2000 domain."
Which is exactly what happened because we used a swing migration on this server from an existing SBS 2000 machine.
Very interesting that it only raised its head when we applied ISA SP3, but at least it is now solved after much puzzlement.

KB931836 fails to install

Having a problem installing KB931836 on your XP Professional workstation? We'll we were as well. What the hell is this update? Ah, ha a daylight savings patch from Microsoft - we should have known there would be problems.
The solution is to firstly uninstall KB933360, reboot and then install KB931836.
Simple eh? NOT.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Exchange message size restrictions

There are 2 locations at which you can restrict the message size that Exchange server will accept and send. Unsure of exactly which one takes precedence but at least know you'll know there are two places to look :

a. Under properties on SMTP virtual server

Start | All Programs | Microsoft Exchange | System Manager
<DOMAIN> | Servers | <Server_name> | Protocols | SMTP | default
Right mouse click | Properties
Messages tab | Limit Message size to

Normally this option is not selected and therefore will not apply to your Exchange messages.

b. Under Message delivery under Global settings

Start | All Programs | Microsoft Exchange | System Manager
<DOMAIN> | Global Settings | Message Delivery
Right mouse click | Properties
Defaults tab | Sending Message or Receiving message size

On SBS this setting is configured for both send and receive and set to 10MB. Simply disable or increase the limit as required.

Interesting that it is two places and neither seems to get touched by the Connect to Internet wizard.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Downgrading SQL 2005 to SQL 2000 on SBS 2003 R2 Premium

We seem to be getting more and more of these requests as we upgrade clients to the latest version of SBS 2003. Seems like most developers have still not migrated their applications across to SQL 2005. Come on guys, SQL 2008 is just around the corner.
In the meantime here is an article from Microsoft that explains how to go about downgrading.

Small Business Webcast training

Take a look at :
For some online webcast training specifically for small business resellers.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Our Wireless Networking courses starts this week

Our course on Wireless Networking starts this Thursday evening at Macquarie Community College at Carlingford. For more details click here.
The course is designed to give you the basics about not only setting up a wireless network but also makign sure that it is secure. You'll be taken through the step by step configuration of a wireless network.

Remote Web Workplace failing to login

So before leaving the client we just upgraded to SBS2003 Service Pack we checked everything we could think of, and it all worked.
Well we get a call the following day saying that Remote Web Workplace was allowing users to log in but then logging them directly out again before they could choose which computer they wanted to connect to remotely.
When we checked we didn't find a problem using our login. When we used the users credentials to login to Remote Web Workplace we were logged straight out. Strange.
So we checked the user rights on the server for remote access and nothing had changed. Next stop Google, from which we found the following article:
Turns out that during our updates the Remote Web Workplace web site had "somehow" been switch across to using ASP.NET version 2.
So we logged back into the server and opend the IIS manager via Start | All Programs | Administrative tools | Internet Information Server. From here we selected the default web site and located the Remote site underneath. Right mouse clicked and selected Properties. Here we found a tab heading ASP.NET. Sure enough the current setting was version 2 not version 1. We pulled down the options and selecet ASP.NET version 1. Note that by doing this you lose access if you are using RWW to access the server.
Now it all works fien again. Strange eh? must be something to do with user rights and ASP.NET V2.0. Main thing is that it all works now and the client can continue working remotely (on a weekend - Why? I ask).

Friday, September 7, 2007

Windows Small Business Server Service Pack 1 has encountered an error

Ok, so why are we getting this error if Service Pack 1 for SBS 2003 has been out for years? Well, believe it or not some people haven't even installed it! Why, because they aren't technical people and their previous IT people didn't believe in Service Packs.
So, it's time to roll up the sleeves and install this sucker. Everything seemed to be goin rather well until we received the following error during the installation of the final component of the SBS 2003 service pack :
Windows Small Business Server Service Pack 1 has encountered an error. For more information review the most recent entry in the setup error log c:\program files\microsoft integration\windows small business server 2003\logs\setup.log. Then correct the error and run Service Pack 1 again.
You can then click to open the log, which we did. Inside the th log we noted the following :
An error occurred while installing Microsoft Office Outloook 2003 (SP1). Rerun the setup and retry installaing Outlook.
Ok, why is this happening. Again, after a bit of Googling and troubleshooting it appears that the previous IT people deleted the entire \Clientapps folder to create space as Exchange Server information stores increased. So without the \Clientapps\outlook2003 folder and an msi inside guess what you get an error!.
You probably don't need to rerun the installation just to over come this problem if Outlook is operational on the desktops. It would also appear that this error happens if you have relocated the \clientapps directory to another drive on the machine. This can be overcome by making changes to the registry to tell SBS 2003 where each \clintapp folder is.
Handy hint - before running SBS 2003 SP1 check to whether the entire \clientapps directories exist and that their location in the registry is correct.

Error 0xC0070643 while installing Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2

So we comence an installation of Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 onto an SBS 2003 system and get the following nasty error :
Setup failed while installing sub component Exchange Activesync with error code 0Xc0070643 please consult the installation logs for detailed decription. You can cencel the installation or try the failed step again.
If you press the Retry button yo u receive the same error, if you press Cancel the installation process continues and completes.
The issue turns out to be that the version of msxml3 installed on the system is a letre version than the one that comes with Exchange Service Pack 2 ( which I think is msxml SP5). Ther version on this system was msxml3 SP7. Why oh why Microsoft.
A quick Google turned up two possibilities :
This one which gets you to copy and rename files, which we found didn't work.
The other solution is from Susan Bradley at :
Now when we looked at the specific registry key she mentions in her article we couldn't locate the key. so we looked through all the entries under HKLM | Software | Classes | Installer | Products till we found one where the product key equalled 'Microsoft XML Parser'. We then exported the key from the registry as a backup and deleted it.
When we reran the Service Pack setup everything went through without an error - PHEW.
Once again, the Susan the Diva saves the day!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Removing a share after deleting the directory

If you have created a share and then deleted the share without first deleting the directory you leave an 'orphaned' share that will log an error in the System Event logs (Event ID 2511) when the system boots.
To remove this 'orphaned' share simply go to the command line and type :
net share <SHARE_NAME> /delete
and the share name will removed from the list of shares the server creates on startup.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lacie ethernet storage problems

Recently been working the 2TB Lacie Ethernet Network storage device and encountered a few issues when attempting to backup or copy large files to the device.
The device came with V5.0 software installed and (typically) the solution is to upgrade to V6.0 software. We received this from Lacie support :

Version 6.0.0 of the system software has been released. It is based on Windows XPE SP2 and solves many issues. Please provide your shipping address (no PO Boxes) if you wish to try version 6.0.0. We can ship you a copy.


Alternatively you can download a copy from the LaCie public FTP site.


FTP server address:


File name: ED v6.0.0 ECS.iso


Please note that the 4 HDD must be zero'ed for the v6 restore to work.


However, interestingly when we looked closer at the CD's included with the device they were V6.0 software. For some reason we received an unit with an old version of software.


So upgrade and things should be rosy.