SBS 2011 OWA Page Not Responding

When trying to access outlook web access on SBS 2011 by going to https://yourserver/owa.  You see the login prompt but after entering your credentials, you are faced with a blank page with https://yourserver/owa/auth.owa in the address bar.

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This is normally due to the Forms based authentication service not running. Sometimes it fails to start when a PC restarts.

To resolve the issue:

  1. Open Services
  2. Start the Microsoft Exchange Forms-Based Authentication Service

Job Done!

Exchange Version and Build numbers to Service Packs

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I was administering an Exchange 2007 installation today and needed to know what service pack it was running. The problem is that exchange does not display as a service pack, only an increase in version. A bit of googling revealed the following microsoft page that contains the version to Service pack information which i have duplicated at the bottom of this post for ease  http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=158530

Find the Version of Exchange 2007

To find out the build number of Exchange 2007, launch an Exchange Management Shell and run the following command:

Get-ExchangeServer | fl name,edition,admindisplayversion
This will then give you the build number in the form of:

Name : EXCH01A
Edition : Standard
AdminDisplayVersion : Version 8.1 (Build 240.6)

Exchange Server Version lists 2003-2010

Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 6.5.6944 October 2003
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP1 6.5.7226 May 2004
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 6.5.7638 October 2005
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 post-SP2 6.5.7653.33 March 2008
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 post-SP2 6.5.7654.4 August 2008
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 8.0.685.24 or 8.0.685.25 December 2006
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 SP1 8.1.0240.006 November 2007
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 SP2 8.2.0176.002 August 2009
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 14.00.0639.021 October 2009

XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 Beta Release

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I have just received an email from Citrix detailing the new beta of XenServer. Citrix are naming it XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 Beta and it can be downloaded via myCitrix. The two things that jump out at me are Virtual Switches and scheduled snapshots. I will certainly be trying out this when i get some spare time.

Email below:

New XenServer Beta Release!

Evaluate the latest XenServer features

Citrix is pleased to announce the availability of a new beta release for the XenServer virtual platform. The beta is available to all registered MyCitrix account holders and we encourage everyone to download, install, and experience the latest features in development.

The beta showcases several new features including:

  • Integrated, open virtual switch improves packet processing and provides greater visibility to the networking layer.
  • Distributed virtual switching provides an aggregate management interface to control network configurations across XenServer hosts.
  • VM protection & recovery for configuring scheduled snapshots and export of virtual machines.
  • Web self-service portal allows access to delegated VMs via a simple to use web-based portal.
  • XenDesktop performance improvements further enhance the best-in-class performance for XenDesktop running on XenServer.

Download the XenServer beta now.

Visit the beta program page for more details.

How to fix the “Could not connect to Group Policy Client service” Error

Recently a few of our Windows Vista machines have experienced a problem after removing Script Logic Desktop Authority from them, causing non-admin users to not be able to log into the machine.

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The message that appears is
“Could not connect to Group Policy Client service. Please consult your system administrator.”
but strangely sometimes manifests as
“Windows could not connect to the system event notification service . Please consult your system administrator.”

After seeing this message, a normal user is dropped back to the Ctrl-Alt-Del logon screen.

This is how you can solve the problem if you are experiencing a similar problem

1. Log on to the machine as administrator
2. click start and into the search box type “Event Viewer” and press enter
3. Look in the Windows Logs under System for any Warnings or Errors. The error message will be something like Windows cannot process Group Policy Client Side Extension (Daci). Exception (in my case it was daci which is part of the script logic desktop authority program)
4. On the details tab, take a note of the GUID for the faulty client side extension
5. click start and into the search box type “regedit” and press enter
6. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\GPExtensions and then click on the string that represents your faulty GP Extension.
7. click on the file menu and choose export and save a backup of the file.
8. Once the registry is backed up you can delete the folder that corresponds to the GUID
9. Do a restart and log on as a normal user.

Problem solved!

The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll (Book Review)

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The Cuckoo’s Egg is set in the 80’s where Cliff, an Astronomer at Berkley  gets reassigned to the IT department instead of leaving after finishing a research project. A few days into his new role, he is tasked at investigating an accounting error of 75c on the mainframe billing system.

What should have been a straight forward task lead him to discover that the error was due to a hacker accessing the system remotely. Instead of closing the security hole, Cliff decides to watch what the hacker is doing and discovers that the hacker is not just some script kiddy have a bit of a poke about.

What follows is a wild goose chase involving cross state line traces, the FBI, the CIA, the military defence network and KGB.

I bought The Cuckoo’s Egg on a recommendation from a post on TechRepublic about top books every geek should own. This particular book caught my attention as it is a true story and was before the days of the internet as we currently know it.

Although a book related to hackers and technology, it is about the journey and not about the technology involved and as such could be picked up by anyone.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in computing, the internet and computer security.

Check out “The Cuckoo’s Egg” on Amazon

How not to move your iTunes music!

This is a bit of a lesson to myself on how iTunes is set up and the bizzareness of it all.
I was at a client’s to fix their laptop that was running sluggish and on which skype was refusing to work on. On inspection, I found that the primary partition was running seriously low on space and as such the file system was incredibly fragmented.

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A quick scan with treesize showed the the majority of the hard drive space was being used up by the client’s music in iTunes. Luckily the hard drive was partitioned into two drives and the seccond partition was practically empty and had ample space if I was to move the mucus across to it.
Firing up iTunes, I went into the settings and told the program to use a folder on the second partition as the primary store for the music. After applying the settings, nothing happened an the mucsic was still on the primary partition. Digging a little deeper, I found that I needed to tell iTunes to we catalog it’s music and it would then move the music across to the new location – the. All I would need to do is delete the music from the old location under my music.
After about 40 mins, the music had finished copying across so I went ahead and deleted the iTunes folder in my music, emptied the recycle bin and started a full defrag of the system drive using myDefrag.
This is where my mistake was – instead of deleting just the music, I had accidently deleted the iTunes database as well, meaning that all of the client’s playlists and purchased songs list was lost. Add to the fact that a full defrag had taken place, there was no way that I was going to be able to recover the files with an undelete utility. Bugger!
Luckily, I was able to rebuild the libarary by adding the moved files back into iTunes and then syncing the client’s iPhone and iPod with iTunes to recreate the playlists. Enven the purchased songs were playable though they were not showing up in their own little playlist. The client was happy with the results, I got his laptop up to normal speed and most importantly got skype running.
The moral of the story?
Do not delete everything from the iTunes folder if moving your music and always take a backup of the database first. Pretty common sense really, but even us IT guys slip up once in a while!

How to fix McAfee VirusScan Corporate update error.

McAfee Update Issue – Affecting corporate users world wide

McAfee released an Anti Virus update early morning on Wednesday 21st April that falsely detects a core windows file, svchost.exe as a virus. It then quarantines or deletes the file causing windows to become essentially useless.

This problem seems to be only affecting Windows XP SP3 machines at the moment.

Some of the symptoms of the affected PC’s are:

  • Loss of Task Bar and Start Menu
  • Unable to connect to the network or internet

This has been a major problem for many companies as the current fix, at least right now, requires each machine to be touched by IT, in person, to repair the bad update as well as the svchost.exe file. As can be imagined, when faced with automatic updates across a company of hundreds or thousands of users, an IT department quickly has a major headache on their hands.

This is adding to the frustration and is causing delays resolving the problem.

If you are struck with this problem, and feel confident enough, you can fix this problem yourself, taking the strain off of your IT department and also getting yourself back up and running again.

Please note: Although straight forward, you will be accessing windows system files and as such due care and caution are advised. Please read through this guide thouroghly before attempting to perform this fix. If at any stage you are unsure, seek professional advice.

This guide has been adapted from the official McAfee Document – False positive detection of w32/wecorl.a in 5958 DAT (for Corporate/Business users) – VirusScan Enterprise found at http://vil.nai.com/vil/5958_false.htm

To fix the problem

What you need:

  • A working PC with internet access
  • A usb stick/pendrive

Step 1 – Download

  1. Then download the Updated DAT file which is available from the McAfee Security Updates page at: http://www.mcafee.com/apps/downloads/security_updates/dat.asp?region=us&segment=enterprise and save it to your USB Stick

Step 2 – Recovery

  1. Boot up the affected PC and insert the USB Stick
  2. Access Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl – Alt – Del on the keyboard
  3. From the File menu choose New Task (Run…)
  4. In the Create New Task box, Type explorer.exe and then press Enter
  5. This should bring up a windows explorer window that you can then use to navigate to the file system.
  6. Navigate to your USB Stick and double Click on the DAT update file that you downloaded earlier.
  7. Follow the instructions on screen to complete the update.
  8. Once complete, using the Windows Task Manager, once again from the File menu choose New Task (Run…)
  9. In the Create New Task box, Type “C:\program files\mcafee\virusscan enterprise\mcconsol.exe” /standalone and then press Enter
  10. This will bring up the management console for McAfee Virus Scan
  11. Double-click Quarantine Manager Policy, then click the Manager tab.
  12. Right-click the detection and select Restore.
  13. Restart your computer by using Windows Task Manager and from the file menu choosing Shutdown > Restart

That should get you up and running. If you are still having problems or would like someone else to do this for you, please get in touch

How to upgrade a Jailbroken iPhone 3Gs to 3.1.2

If your SHSH hashes for your iPhone have been logged to Cydia, you can upgrade your iPhone firmware to 3.1.2 with a bit of hacking.

Step 1

Check to make sure that your SHSH files are logged with Cydia

If this is the case, you are in luck and should be able to upgrade you iPhone.

Step 2

Download the iPhone 3.1.2 firmware from http://www.felixbruns.de/iPod/firmware/

Step 3

Edit your hosts file (usually located in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts) using notepad and add the following line to the bottom of the file.

74.208.105.171           gs.apple.com

This fools iTunes into pointing to the Cydia servers for the verification codes to confirm that the 3.1.2 firmware is allowed to be applied to your iPhone.

Step 4

Make sure your iPhone is fully charged (this reduces the risk of it turning off mid upgrade), plug it into your PC and fire up iTunes

Step 5

Once connected, in iTunes, click on your iPhone in the side bar Shift+Click on restore and browse to the 3.1.2 firmware that you downloaded.

Click OK and wait for iTunes to go through its motions.

Step 6

Once complete your iPhone will reboot and you will be given the option to restore your files and settings from a backup.

Choose your backup and then click continue.

iTunes will now restore your files and settings to your iPhone.

Make a cup of tea or something whilst waiting…

Step 7

Download your Jailbreak of choice. I use blackra1n – http://blackra1n.com/

Step 8

Jailbreak your iPhone following the instructions of the jailbreak program. For blackra1n, just launch the program and click “make it ra1n”

Job done!

Useful links:

iPhone Firmwares – http://www.felixbruns.de/iPod/firmware/

Blackra1n – http://blackra1n.com/

Pwnage Tool – http://blog.iphone-dev.org/

Youtube Video by tysiphonehelp for blackra1n – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7DnqOS1njU

Can’t sleep…

I can’t sleep. I have been up since 3am so I figured as it has been a while since I made a post, a quick update was in order.

The past few months have been quite busy for me, I have been focusing a lot on my career and building up my certifications, work has had a few restructures and I have also just moved house.

In July I passed the CompTIA Security+ exam and in October I completed the final exams to gain my MCSA in Server 2003. I am now focusing on my CCNA which all things going well, I hope to complete by the end of the year or beginning of January at the latest. I was originally aiming to complete my MCSE as well but money and time have not been on my side especially with moving house and work commitments.

I am sitting in the kitchen of my new house which overlooks some farmers fields, waiting for the sun to come up drinking a cup of tea. We moved in on the 31st of October and two weeks on most of the things are sorted. Our stuff has been unboxed and places have been found for most things. Internet is still waiting to be connected and we are playing it safe until our gas and electric switch over to our preferred supplier. Funny how important it is nowadays to search for a property that is serviced by a decent Internet connection! Before we decided to go for the house, I logged onto www.samknows.com to check what the local exchange could offer us, the house is lovely but I wonder if we would have gone with it if we couldn’t get some form of ADSL connection. There is a scheme called the Digital Region running in South Yorkshire the aims to get every house connected to the Internet via fiber at speeds of around 100meg within the next few years. They have already laid the fiber down the main road next to work so things are looking promising. 100meg line to your house sounds pretty neat, but I wonder what the contention will be like. Still, anything is better than relying on a 3g data dongle for all our Internet needs. 3g coverage is not great here and my iPhone flutters from GPRS and 3g depending where you are in the house, the data dongle is a bit more consistent which I put down to having a stronger antenna buy is still shaky at best. Here’s hoping that our broadband gets connected soon.

I forgot how tiring and stressful moving house can be but thanks to a few mates, we managed to get everything across in a weekend without anyone being stabbed or otherwise abused/injured! Being preoccupied with the move I completely missed Halloween and Guy Fawkes this year and it seems strange that Christmas is only a few weeks away. Is it something to do with getting older that the years seem to get shorter? Like when you are five a year is a fifth of your life so seems quite long but when your 25 it is only a 25th of your life so seems much shorter?

Kinda tailing off now so I’ll leave it at that…

Exchange Activesync not working on WM6

I just had a problem where one of our user’s HTC tytn ii phones was refusing to sync with exchange over the mobile network. I conducted the usual action of veryfying the password but could not find the problem. So I googled for the error code 85010014 which came up with loads of articles about resetting outlook – but I wasn’t using outlook, I was using activesync.
Back on the device I checked to see if I could navigate to OWA in Internet explorer which pulled up an error 500 code. This made me think that it could be the Internet connection but everyone else was connecting fine.
The next step was to doable the hspda connection and connect the device to the internal wireless – still not syncing!
Could it be the user account? I removed the exchange account from the device and set up mine in it’s place to test my theory. Mine synced fine and I could even connect to OWA as well.
I set the users account back up and got the user to enter their password and straight away the device started syncing!

The moral of the story is – if exchange activesync is playing up, it only takes a few mins to delete the account and start again as opposed to troubleshooting less likely suspects. The error code produced is a ‘general error’ so use a ‘general’ fix to rectify it.