Oct 9, 2013

Remote Desktop (RDP) connection to Windows 8 login prompts "Connect a smart card". Also for Remote Web Workplace (RWW).

There have been a few hurdles getting users connected into Windows 8 machines via Remote Desktop (RDP) or Remote Web Workplace (RWW) from Small Business Server.

When you try to log in, you may see a message that says "Connect a smart card".  The issue seems to be caused by trying to "push" or "save" your credentials into the remote session as you are logging in.  I know in RWW, you should go back to the "connection options" and un-check the box the says something like "Login to this session as InsertUsernameHere".   This may also effect RDP - try not to save or send your credentials along with the initial launching of the session.  Try to wait and just enter them manually once you get to the Windows 8 login screen.

If that doesn't help, the other workaround is to click on the "Other user" avatar on the Windows 8 login screen, rather than clicking on YOUR avatar.  Then manually enter your username and password.  My users have had success with the "other user" trick if all else fails.

Window Vista laptop gets a "local only" wifi connection from Verizon FIOS router. Can ping router but can't connect to the internet.

I ran into a heck of a time with a Windows Vista laptop and a new Verizon FIOS installation recently.  All other devices in the home could connect to the FIOS wireless network without any issue.  The Vista laptop would see the wifi network, it would accept the wifi password/key and it would show a solid connection in the system tray but the status of the connection would show "Local only", meaning it could not access the internet. This was certainly accurate because even though I could ping the router, I can't access anything on the internet.

After much troubleshooting, I figured out that I COULD access internet sites via their IP address, just not by their domain names. So this indicated that my DNS servers weren't working.  Everything was set on automatic but since it wasn't working, I changed my DNS settings to manual and I entered in two DNS servers used by Verizon FIOS:

4.2.2.1
4.2.2.2

The instructions on how to change these settings may vary slightly depending on your OS, but this method should work:


  1. Hit the Start button and then type in "network connections" and hit enter.  
  2. Now you should see your network device listed here - either Ethernet or wireless. Right-click it and hit Properties. 
  3. Then click on TCP/IP v4 and hit Properties. 
  4. On the bottom part of the window, select "Use the following DNS server addresses:" and enter those two addresses. Or you could try using two Google DNS servers if you like: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.
  5. Click Ok
  6. It may require a reboot for those settings to kick in

Aug 22, 2013

Problem uninstalling Internet Explorer - try it in Safe Mode. Can't uninstall IE 9, getting errors.

I was working on a laptop yesterday - Windows Vista with IE 9.  I was trying to uninstall IE 9 in order to re-install it to try to fix some problems but it was giving me errors when trying to run the uninstaller.

So instead, I tried booting into Safe Mode first. Then I had no problems uninstalling IE 9.  Just use the normal steps of going to Add/Remove Programs (or Uninstall Programs) and click on the Show Installed Updates links on the left. Then find Internet Explorer 9 and click Uninstall.

Aug 20, 2013

Can't play embedded YouTube videos in Chrome. Won't load and shows a black box. Try resetting Chrome browser settings.

I've been having an issue with Chrome for a few weeks where it won't play YouTube videos that are embedded in another webpage. It just shows me an empty black box with no thumbnail of the video or playback controls.  If I go directly to YouTube.com to watch the video, I don't have any problem. Embedded videos play fine in Internet Explorer.

I tried manually disabling all of my Chrome extensions and clearing my cache but none of that helped.  Just today (8/20/2013) I see that there is a new Chrome update available. One of the features is a new "Reset browser settings" button.  It resets everything back to the default settings but keeps basic customization like bookmarks, themes, etc.  I thought it would remove all of my extensions but in fact it simply disabled them.

I'm glad to report that this DID fix my issue with embedded videos!  I then went back in and enabled all of my extensions again and the embedded videos are still working! Woo-hoo!  So whatever this reset did, it took care of my problem.

Here's how you do it:

  1. In your Chrome menu, hit the icon with the 3 horizontal bars (called "Customize and control Google Chrome")
  2. Select "Settings"
  3. Scroll to the bottom and hit "Show Advanced Settings"
  4. Scroll to the bottom again and hit the button labeled "Reset browser settings" as seen here...



Jul 30, 2013

Windows 7 PC wakes up on it's own. How to stop it from waking automatically.

I had built a new Windows 7 PC for a customer that I found was randomly waking up from sleep on it's own while just sitting in my office.   I determined that it was the network adapter that was waking it up.  Now unless you have a machine that you are trying to log into remotely when it's asleep, you can probably disable this feature.


  1. Open your Device Manager - hit the Start button and type "device manager" and hit enter. Should take you right to it. 
  2. Expand the item called Network Adapters. You may see more than one network adapter listed here. I suggest starting with your hard-wired Ethernet LAN adapter before trying this on any wireless adapters. Right-click the adapter and hit Properties.
  3. You should see a Power Management tab. Switch to that tab.
  4. The settings in this tab will vary depending on your particular adapter, but what you want to look for is any option that mentions "Allow this device to wake this computer", "Wake on LAN", "Wake on link", "Wake on Magic Packet", etc, and disable (un-check) that option.
  5. Click OK and close Device Manager
  6. Test and see if your device stays in sleep mode. May require a reboot if its not working right away

Presence not shown or unavailable in Outlook 2010 but it's displayed in Lync 2013

Recently after upgrading one Office 365 user from Lync 2010 to Lync 2013, his Outlook 2010 was no longer displaying the "presence" indicators - the little green/red/yellow status bubbles next to people's name.
It seems there can be a variety of different causes and fixes, but in this case, the following information is what helped me out.  


First, look at this location in the registry...


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers] 

It should show this ...

"DefaultIMApp"="Lync"

Then, check on the following two entries...

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers\Communicator] "ProcessId"=dword:00002458 "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002 


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers\Lync] "ProcessId"=dword:00002458 "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002

The "UpAndRunning"=dword:00000002 value indicates that this particular IM service is available for use.  The system appears to be confused, thinking that both Communicator (the old name for Lync) and the current version of Lync are available.  What you need to do is to go to the entry for Communicator and change the dword value to 0.  

Now restart Outlook and see if your presence indicators are back.

Jun 4, 2013

How to import a vCard file with multiple contacts into Outlook (after exporting from Lotus Notes)

I ran into an issue when trying to move a users contact list from Lotus Notes into Outlook 2013.   He had exported out his 146 contacts into a single vCard file.  But when I imported that vCard into Outlook, it only gave me a single contact, not the full list.  After some research, it turns out that Outlook doesn't support the vCard format very well and it doesn't have the ability to recognize multiple contacts in a single vCard. 

There seemed to be a variety of tools out there for download that would help with this task but I was looking for a free solution.  So after jumping through a couple of simple hoops, I was able to get them into Outlook.  

Here is what I did:

  1. Log in to any Gmail account that you might have and go the Contacts area - you can create a new folder for these temporary contacts but it did that automatically for me with a folder called "Imported 6/4/2013".  Now import your vCard file into your Gmail Contacts
  2. Select all of the contacts that you just imported and now export them out of Gmail.  Choose "Outlook CSV file" as the export type. (Note : When I click the "Export" button in the export wizard, nothing happened. I found a tip that suggested that I click "Classic Contacts" at the bottom of the Gmail window and it reverted back to an old version of the contacts screen and then the export worked fine.)
  3. Now go into Outlook, and go to File -> Open & Export -> Import/Export (in the case of Outlook 2013, it may vary but it will be similar in other versions of outlook.) Now in the import/export wizard, select "Import from another program or file" and then "Comma Separated Values" (CSV), select your CSV file that you exported from Gmail and then select your Contacts folder as the destination.  
Now you should have all of your Contacts imported into Outlook!

May 8, 2013

Error connecting to Remote Web Workplace (RWW) with Internet Explorer (IE) 10 and Windows 8 on SBS server

Recently one of my users had a problem connecting to their Remote Web Workplace portal on their Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS 2003).   I found that their browser at home had recently been upgraded to IE 10 which was the source of the problem.  I think this has also been causing issues for Windows 8 users as well.

Two steps helped to fix this issue :

1. Click the "Compatibility View" button up on the address bar when you first hit your RWW site. (It's the icon that looks like a torn piece of paper.)  Now try to connect again. If that doesn't work...

2. Add the domain name or IP address of your RWW site to the "Trusted Sites" list in your Internet Options in IE (click the little gear-shaped icon in the upper right corner and go to Internet Options. Then Security tab, then green Trusted Sites icon then Sites button).  Restart IE and try again.  This should fix the issue for you.  You may need to let it re-install the ActiveX plug-in again.


Check last login activity date for an Office 365 or Exchange online user with Powershell command

Now that the latest update for Office 365 is rolling out to customers, I've seen some cool new features in the Dashboard area. For example there is a chart that is displayed that shows you how many of your users haven't logged into the system in the past 30 days or 90 days. Unfortunately it won't actually show you the names of those users so you can't really act on that information.

Here is a quick Powershell command that you can run that will give you a list of all of your users and display the date of the last time that they logged into the system:

Get-mailbox -resultsize unlimited| Get-MailboxStatistics | select displayname, lastlogontime

Note : If you need some help getting connected with Powershell, you can look at this earlier blog post of mine that tells you how to connect and run these commands.


Mar 17, 2013

Outlook.com doesn't have automatic spell checking - need to manually run spell checker

I just found an annoyance with Outlook.com.   It doesn't seem to automatically spell check when you are typing an email.  You need to manually click "Spell Check" up on the top blue bar.  (This bar only appears when you are actually composing a message.)   Alternatively, you can push F7 to run a spell check.

Also, your browser my provide automatic spell checking.  I've been using Outlook.com in IE 9 and I've not seen any automatic spell checking so maybe I don't have that feature turned on.  I know Chrome does have automatic spell checking that works great.

Mar 14, 2013

Reduce Chrome browser memory usage from too many tabs with this handy extension - The Great Suspender

I read this article about a Chrome extension that can help reduce the amount of memory that your Chrome browser uses.   I typically have 20-30 tabs open at any given time.  These are usually all of my "go to" sites that I frequent throughout the day - Facebook, Twitter, deal sites, amazon, ebay, forums, etc.  As a result, Chrome can end up eating up a ton of memory and bogging down my system.

This Chrome extension called The Great Suspender can be set to automatically suspend tabs that haven't been used in a certain period of time.  I set it for 1 hour.  When the tab is suspended, it frees up the memory that was allocated to that tab.  It really does seem to work.  I have 6GB of RAM in my machine and instead of typically sitting at 70-80% of RAM usage, I'll be sitting at 40-50% with most of my tabs suspended.

The tabs are grayed out when they are suspended but you simply need to click on the tab and hit the banner at the top to reload the tab when you need it.

Give it a try!


Mar 13, 2013

Error 0x8004102A in Outlook when syncing mail using the Hotmail connector (Error 1133)

I've recently switched one of my main email accounts over to the new Outlook.com which is excellent! On my main PC, I'm running Outlook 2010 and I've installed the Hotmail Connector For Outlook to give me more Exchange-like syncing experience rather than just simple POP mail.  Now if I read or delete an email on my PC, it syncs that change back to Outlook.com which then syncs it to my phone, etc.

Anyway, this setup has been working fine for a few weeks but for the last few days, I was getting an error from Outlook every time it tried to send/receive.  It was error 0x8004102A.  It would look like this...

“Task ‘<Hotmail account>’ reported error (0x8004102A) : ‘Error with Send/Receive’.” 

This indicates an error trying to sync items between the local Outlook mailbox on your Hotmail/Live/Outlook.com .  To get some more details, lets take a look at the sync log.

In Outlook, go to the area in the lower left were you see Mail, Calendar, Contacts, etc. and click the item called "Folder List".  This shows you ALL of the folders in your mailbox, even the usually hidden system folders.  Now look in your mailbox folder structure for a folder called "Sync Issues". This should contain several Sync Logs.  Check out the most recent one and scroll down until you see some errors.

In my case, I saw an error that looked something like this...


10:50:19 Synchronizing server changes in folder 'Deleted Items'
10:50:19 Error Synchronizing Message
               Error: 1133
               Server Command: CHANGE
 10:50:19 Server Id: 18F8A5F5-50A5-11E0-A9A0-00215AD6A70A
 10:50:19 Error with Send/Receive.

Basically it was trying to change(sync) something in the Deleted Items folder but it was having a problem doing so. This is indicated by the Error: 1133.  

I tried deleting everything in the deleted items folders both in my local Outlook as well as in Outlook.com but that didn't help.  Something was corrupt in my local mailbox.

The next step was to delete my cached local mailbox (the .OST file) and let Outlook rebuild a fresh copy.

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can just enter this path into your command line and it will take you to the proper folder or you can just browse to this location...

%localappdata%\microsoft\outlook

Here you will find a file that looks like MyEmailAccountName.OST .  Close Outlook and then delete or rename this file.  It will wipe out your local cached copy of your mailbox.  Now launch Outlook again and it will download a fresh copy of all of your folders and messages from Hotmail/Live/Outlook.com and you shouldn't have the error any longer. It worked for me!  Note : it make take several minutes to download all of your email again, depending on the size of your mailbox and the speed of your connection.


Update: Since finding this fix and publishing this post, I've had to repeat this process a few times over the past few months.  It seems to me that the issue is probably caused by something like deleting an email from my phone and then maybe deleting it again from my local Outlook program before it's had a chance to sync with the server.  So my phone has already told Outlook.com to delete the message, so it should be gone. But then the Outlook program tries to delete the same message, can't find it because its already gone, then throws up this error message.  


Feb 15, 2013

Fix issue with too many contacts in iPhone caused by Outlook Suggested Contacts. How to disable them from syncing.

I had a client the other day that wonder why he was seeing so many unrecognized contacts on his new iPhone.  I had a quick look at it and it certainly showed many more contacts than are listed as contacts in Outlook.   I immediately thought of the "Suggested Contacts" list that Outlook automatically creates - it builds a list of other people that you've sent mail to or received mail from but haven't necessarily saved to your official contacts lists.  So I went into his Suggested Contacts list in his contacts area of Outlook and that list did appear to be the source of all of the extraneous contacts on his phone.

Luckily, starting with iOS 6, I believe, there is an easy way to prevent this Suggested Contacts list from syncing from Outlook/Exchange to your iPhone or iPad.

On your iPhone, follow these steps...

  1. Open the Contacts app  (or go to Phone app and then switch to Contacts area).
  2. Click the "Groups" button in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. You'll see a list of different contact groups so you want to un-check the "Suggested Contacts" group. 
  4. Click "Done"!
Now it may take a few minutes for everything to sync again but this will remove all of the Suggested Contacts from the iPhone, leaving you with just your actual list of contacts from Outlook.





Jan 9, 2013

Check mailbox size and usage with Office 365 or Exchange online. Find users nearing their quota.

The other day I wanted to have a look at the mailbox usage for one of my Office 365 clients.  I wanted to see all 35 users and find out if anyone was close to their mailbox quotas.  There is no way to check this for all users at once using the Office 365 or Exchange Online GUI so you need to turn to PowerShell.  I had to go to 5 or 6 different sites to find all of the little details and troubleshoot some errors so I thought I'd compile all of that info into a blog post for you.

  1. First of all, you need to use the regular version of PowerShell.  NOT the "Online Services Module" for PowerShell version that you would typically use for other Office 365 tasks, I guess because we are talking directly to the Exchange environment here and not the Office 365 portal itself. 
  2. Make sure you run PowerShell as an administrator. (Right-click the icon and select "Run as Administrator")
  3. The first time I ever tried to run these type of scripts, I got an error about running remote signed scripts or something like that. So you need to run this command the very first time you try any operations like this:  
    • Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  4. Next are the 3 commands that you need to run to connect to your hosted Exchange server and start a new session:
    • $LiveCred = Get-Credential (then enter your Office 365 email address and password in the box that pops up)
    • $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $LiveCred -Authentication Basic –AllowRedirection
    • Import-PSSession $Session
  5. Next is the basic command to get a list of all users and their current mailbox size:
    • get-mailbox | get-mailboxstatistics | ft displayname, totalitemsize
  6. When you are finished, it's a best practice to go ahead and close your session before you exit PowerShell, so you need to run this command:
    • Remove-PSSession $Session
These steps should get you connected and give you a quick look at user mailbox sizes so you can see if anyone is in danger of hitting their quota.  There are a ton of other scripts that can give you all sorts of information about the hosted Exchange environment.  I even some scripts that would actually create a local Excel spreadsheet and pipe the output to that file so you could save it or analyze it further. I'll try to post more of this type of stuff in the future.