Category Archives: learning

Android Studio 1.4, Gradle, and bloody proxies.

Today, children, we’ll be buggering about with Android studio 1.4. AND we’ll be swearing a lot. Why will we be swearing a lot? because it means we have to play with gradle, from behind our corporate firewall. when you install Android Studio, you have to set it up to play with your proxy. you do this here:



but gradle doesn’t pick them up from here. Gradle needs them in the file in your project:


and save, and restart android studio…

or you can alter this file here:


oh, and don’t be trying to do this:


it will error. you need to escape your slash like so:



for the avoidance of doubt – you need “\\” not “\”.

Herts BCS meeting, October 2015; Ada Lovelace Day

adanewseventsimages Me and Megan (daughter, 17, got A* for maths and further maths at GCSE… just saying… :D) went to the BCS lecture on Tuesday night at the Lindop Building, University of Herts. I particularly wanted Meg to go as it was the Ada Lovelace Commemorative Lecture to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, and I’m always keen that she gets to hear about great role models. She never believes a dam’ thing i tell her, so it’s best she hears this stuff from someone else.

The main lecture was delivered by Professor Dr Kersten Dautenhahn, of the Adaptive Systems Research Group at UH. It was a (too) brief overview of “social” robotics – that is, robots in society, rather than a twitterbot. She discussed two particular areas of interest – robots that we care for, such as Aibo (RIP) and Pleo, and robots that provide care for us. The lecture focussed largely on the work being done at UH in the latter field. In particular, three projects – the Care-o-bot and the robot house, which explore systems for the care of the elderly, and KASPAR, article-1364585-0D852328000005DC-103_468x315a “minimally expressive” robot, were discussed. I found the work being done with KASPAR and autistic children fascinating. Autistic children may find the unpredictability of human behaviour confusing and frightening. The minimal expressions and predictable behaviour of KASPAR, whether acting in a semiautonomous mode or under the remote control of a parent, teacher or even another child are reassuring and allow for enjoyable interaction. I’d urge you to watch the video here.There are now 32 KASPARs, including twenty of the latest model, working with two hundred children, and the University is looking for new partners in their research. 

Like’say, i really enjoyed Professor Dautenhahn’s lecture. I wasn’t so keen on the short eulogy to Ada Lovelace; don’t get me wrong,  i am extremely keen on Ada, ever since reading her (fictional) adventures in “the difference engine” by Gibson and Sterling twenty years ago, then discovering her life was actually far more interesting. However this short talk was not great. i don’t think it would have done much to inspire any young ladies present. luckily, the only young lady* present in need of inspiration was Meg, and i can lend her my copy of the fantastic book by Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. despite much of the book being fictional steampunk, the first part is a well researched, brilliantly written and fantastically illustrated biography of Ada, Countess of Lovelace. There are copious footnotes, fitting for a subject who is mostly famous for producing a work where the notes were by far the most substantial part. It doesn’t even dwell on the opium addiction, the inveterate gambling, the unhealthy interest in mesmerism or any of the other peccadilloes that make her so fascinating.


*this is a bit of a shame. Most Herts BCS lectures i go to are heavily attended by men nearing retirement, and male UH computing students. An Ada Lovelace Day lecture delivered to year 9 would be something far more useful… or possibly even year 6.


illustrations copyright Sydney Padua. hopefully, seeing as I’m plugging her excellent book, she won’t mind…


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so, how was UCDayUK for you?

Cos it was brilliant for me. _44279618_fastshowbrilliant270[1]Everything about the day was spot on, and Andrew Price deserves hearty thanks and congratulations for organizing such a seamless, enjoyable and *useful* day.

The venue was spot on for this sort of thing – the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham. it was really plush, the staff were friendly and well organised, the food at lunchtime was great and there was gallons of free coffee, which was just as well.

The speakers were asked to be there early – 7:30am. i thought this was going to be quite a struggle, but it turns out i was so nervous i was awake from 5am – sigh. I was surprised by how big the venue was, and how many people were cramming into the room – Andrew said in the end there were about 300 people. i was expecting maybe 30…

The keynote was given by Ian Woolner of Microsoft, who is Senior Product Marketing Manager in charge of Skype for Business. it was a good presentation of upcoming features, some of which are extremely impressive, but the most interesting thing for me was his emphasis on partners and their value to Microsoft – it seemed that our main value was onboarding customers to O365…

After the keynote i watched Steve Goodman deliver a session on Exchange 2016 hybrid, which was great. i made a conscious decision to watch presentations from people that i “know” from their exchange community work, rather than technical stuff that was new to me, because i wanted to learn more about presenting, rather than product. This paid off in my opinion – if you want to learn how to do something, spend time with people who do it well. the only trouble is, i was so nervous i was struggling to concentrate.

No trouble with the second session, mind – Brian Reid did his usual fantastic job of delivering difficult technical content in a clear and engaging fashion, with a demo of using Powershell Desired State Configuration with Exchange.  The only problem was it meant i had to miss Gary Steere’s lecture on troubleshooting AutoDiscover. Gary is an MCT (and  MCM, and MVP), so i probably would have learnt a lot from watching him, but a Brian Reid session is too good an opportunity to miss.

time for lunch. it was tiptop. good buffet food, including some hot options, nice cakes that i didn’t have, because i’m not eating cake at the moment and more coffee. i had a chance to whizz round the exhibition, and would like to say a big thank you to IR software (and their Prognosis tool, which looks great) for saving the day with a moby powerbank, after idiot-boy here forgot to bring a usb cable to keep his phone charged. doh.

In the afternoon i went to watch Justin Harris’ talk on getting active directory ready for an office 365 migration. he had plenty of interesting stuff to say about directory hygiene, and the section on SIDHistory was good. After that i attended Dave Stork’s session on Exchange Tools, which was really interesting, but was plagued by tech glitches, which got me all worried again, so i spent the next hour going back over my slides rather than listening to Michael Van Hybrid’s session. i rocked up about 10 minutes before i was due to present, connected my laptop, went to put my glasses on and… disaster. they’ve gone. no glasses, and therefore no notes. I had to do the entire session from memory. I was told i appeared “slightly nervous”. Really? it’s only sheer terror stopped me breaking down and crying. still, i got through it without anyone throwing stuff at me, so i’m going to count it as a win. hopefully i wasn’t so awful i’ll not get the chance to improve next year.

All the slides from the day are available here: under the “past slides” link. i’ll put up my slides along with the audio when i get round to it. i can’t bring myself to listen back just yet, though.

I had a great time meeting up with a bunch of people I’ve not seen in ages, including a whole bunch of people off my MCM rotation – see below. there is absolutely nothing like an evening with that bunch for making me realise I’m actually thick as mince.

I cannot recommend this event highly enough. if you’re at all interested in unified comms, and the Microsoft UC technologies, then there is literally nothing better in the UK.

I’m really grateful for the chance to present, and I’m really grateful to Andrew Price and the rest of the UCDay team for putting on such a fab day. Thank you to to my various bosses who allowed me out for the day, and to Jon Wrennall for saying it was ok for me to represent Fujitsu. It’s a real pity that Mark Wilson couldn’t be there, not only cos he’s a great bloke, but because he is responsible for most of the actual work that went into what we did. A big thank you to Rob Awofadeju (not shown) an all, not only is he an ace Exchange consultant, but he’s got a great car, too

Herts BCS meeting, March 2015

My son Tom and I attended the monthly BCS meeting last week in the Lindop building at the University of Hertfordshire; a fantastic session entitled “Kit Computer: Talk, Build and Program” presented by Mr Stephan Barnard of Noble Touch Ltd. The talk covered the design and build of a simple computer based around the ATmega328 microcontroller – the heart of the Arduino hobby kit, –  and programming it as a lightmeter, among other things.

It was probably the best attended of the BCS meetings I have been to in Hatfield; at least 80 people, many of them students. no surprise really as it was a practical session, with a free kit computer.  The slides, such as they were, are here. It was however very much a practical session. We were given a small bag of components, some instructions, and then left to get on with it.


Stephan talked around the subject while we worked, explaining what the components were for (for instance, the crystal oscillator is used to provide a faster clock signal than the mega will if left to its own devices) and other things you can do with the chip – for example have a look at the self-balancing two wheel robot, here.

After 90 minutes, we had a working light meter, that also functions as a disco light system for small woodland creatures.


This picture is quite bright.


This picture is not. Putting the photoresistor next to an LED is possibly a design flaw.

We also knew a lot more than previously about how to pulse LEDs so that they can be driven at higher than recommended voltages, the dangers of ordering a few gross of short wires from Ali Baba and how to use software to emulate a 50 kilo-ohm resistor. Let’s face it, we knew nothing about any of these things to start so it wasn’t hard to come away enlightened.

The lad found all this very impressive; our Arduino clones are on order, due to arrive next week, and luckily, so we don’t have to scratch around wondering what to do with them, we’ve been asked to write a review of “Python Programming for Arduino” for Packt. Which is nice.

Anyone casting about looking for a potential speaker or activity for a meeting, say, could do very much worse than speak to Mr Barnard. I can thoroughly recommend him for providing an engaging and interesting evening, and the small flashing souvenir is very Mr Benn. The next BCS Herts meeting is on 16th April at the Steria Campus in Hemel Hempstead. It’s entitled “The Origin of British Computers” and is presented by Alan Wray, late of this parish; it may therefore be of particular interest to older Hertfordshire employees; I’ll probably not take the boy.

Packt are at it again

Those kind people at Packt have another offer; $5 for any book. any book at all.

They Say:

Following the success of last year’s festive offer, Packt Publishing will be celebrating the holiday season with an even bigger $5 offer.

From Thursday 18th December, every eBook and video will be available on the publisher’s website for just $5. Customers are invited to purchase as many as they like before the offer ends on Tuesday January 6th, making it the perfect opportunity to try something new or to take your skills to the next level as 2015 begins.

With all $5 products available in a range of formats and DRM-free, customers will find great value content delivered exactly how they want it across Packt’s website this Xmas and New Year.

I say:

there’s some really good books in the catalogue; 5 bucks for something like Michael Van Hybrid’s Exchange 2013 cookbook represents excellent value. more here:

Intersting things I have seen on the internet, October 14th

Afternoon. Lots of stuff in the last week-and-a-bit. Firstly, you may be interested to take part in the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary survey – if you take part then you’ll get the results mailed to you in March. Interesting stuff. Also please be aware that organisations running Exchange 2007 (like us) may be affected by this issue, causing meetings in Russian time zones to appear incorrectly after October 26. This will be fixed around the middle of November, or the 128th of Mitwoof if you’re in Russia. Anyway, on with it.


Exchange Design:

There’s a new version of the JetStress tool available.

How to integrate Exchange Online with Lync Online, Lync Server 2013, or a Lync Server 2013 hybrid deployment and How to integrate Exchange Server 2013 with Lync Server 2013, Lync Online, or a Lync Server 2013 hybrid deployment.

Need to move mailboxes from one office 365 tenant to another? You need the Microsoft Office 365 merger migration guide for Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync Online. Yes you do.


Exchange Troubleshooting:

I get bored of saying it. Microsoft get bored of saying it. Now you can get bored of reading it (actually, it’s been around a while, but it’s just been updated and it’s worth reading) Fix Outlook connection problems by upgrading to the latest version

Exchange 2013 has a problem with lazy indices causing unexpected x-overs. This is discussed here – Those Pesky Lazy Indices. The article is remarkable for two reasons – firstly, it’s written by Mr McMichael, and secondly it refers to “failovers”. I thought that was verboten? It appears it’s 2013 CU5 that is mostly affected.

Damian Scoles has a really nice article on troubleshooting mailflow during migrations. Not just how to fix it, but actually how to troubleshoot it. Nice.

Outlook 2013 users who have installed the September 2014 Update may experience a certificate error when they open outlook. Microsoft are investigating this.

MRSProxyConfiguration settings are not honoured when they are configured. This will be fixed in CU7, they say.


Exchange General:

Tony Redmond discusses the implications for Exchange on-prem of Satya Nadella’s statement “Office 365 is the new Exchange and one will cannibalize the other. The key is to ensure that current Exchange customers can transition on their own terms.” Even if he’s right (and he usually is…), the opportunities for basing a career around Exchange are going to be limited, at the least. Still at least we’ll have exchange 16 to look forward to in the near future. It might be interesting to have a look at some of the stuff that might make it into the next version.

Paul Cunningham has a nice explanation of the 2013 Autoreseed feature on his blog.


Core General:

Probably the coolest article in this post: Introducing the Netlogon Parser (v1.0.1) for Message Analyzer 1.1. This is awesome. If you only click on one link, this one should be it. It really showcases the power of Message Analyzer. Paul E Long also has made a plea for MessageAnalyzer feedback. He’s particularly after feedback on performance issues. So, while it’s true, “It’s great, Paul!”  isn’t going to cut it.

There’s an interesting video on virtual networks within Azure on Channel 9. Also got some info on internal load balancing. Sounds like a recipe for calls, to me.

Lakshman Hariharan has a second post on Network Trace Analysis using message analyzer. I’m really keen on this tool (really? Who knew) I’m thinking of doing some online training on it if anyone is interested.

For those of you intending to do your MCSA 2012 R2, there’s an offer on the 70-412 ebook here. Offer expires next Sunday (19th).

Microsoft are really an open source company. Honest, guv. That link is worth looking at, however, for the link to Introduction to Programming with Python on the Microsoft virtual academy. Except I’ve just posted it, there. Oh well. It’s got a picture of a man holding a toaster too.


Office 365:

FREE EXCHANGE KEYS! FREE EXCHANGE KEYS! How to obtain an Exchange Hybrid Edition product key for your on-premises Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2003 organization

Office 365 and azure visio stencils from Keith Mayer. If Visio stencils do it for you, then here they are.

New Azure AD enhanced auditing and activity reports coming soon.

Another update to the “how to troubleshoot Azure Active Directory Sync tool installation and Configuration Wizard error messages”. I wish I could come up with snappy product names like that.

Turns out you might find outlook 2010 suddenly runs verrrry slowly with Office 365 – in which case install the August 2013 hotfix package. Note this is a hotfix package, not a rollup. Confusing.

Archive mailbox issues for a mailbox that’s migrated to or from Office 365

There’s going to be a lot of startled admins out there (step 2 of the solution) On-premises users aren’t getting email messages from Office 365 users in an Exchange hybrid deployment

Office 365: Outlook and mobile device connectivity troubleshooting resources

Another general troubleshooting article: Domain errors in the Office 365 portal. You need to expand the table, otherwise it looks like it’s just taunting you.

How to change the AD FS 2.0 service communications certificate after it expires. Useful information regarding certificate manipulation…

NEW! “The server cannot service this request” error when you use In-Place eDiscovery & Hold to search a large number of mailboxes “may be corrected in a future update!”

Troubleshooting Azure Multi-Factor Authentication issues

There’s been an update to the Office 365 mail flow troubleshooting index.

The latest “From Inside the Cloud” post deals with mail and transport encryption in Office 365.

Damian Scoles (again?) has posted a couple of troubleshooting articles on his “Just a UC guy” website. They’re a bit specialised, but I really like his writing style and his systematic approach, both to troubleshooting and documentation, so I’m going to link to them here. Have a look; you could learn a thing or two. Manager’s Team Calendars with Exchange / Office 365 Hybrid  and Free/Busy Hybrid Troubleshooting.



Jeff Schertz has written a long and detailed article on configuring QoS for Lync IP phones. Lots of pictures. Lots of links. I’m still out of my depth with it.


It’s October. That means it must be time for the September 2014 Cumulative Update 5.0.8308.813 for Lync Server 2013 (conferencing server). What does this fix? Nothing at all. A bit like the unified comms, apparently. The front end and edge updates, web components, core components and conferencing attendant updates all appear to actually do something. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past that each Microsoft update contains a handful of fixes to public intersting things that i have seen on the internet, october 14thproblems, and a lorryload of fixes to stuff that Microsoft don’t tell people about. They may all be downloaded here. This article contains a list of the most recent updates for Lync Server 2013. If you bookmark it, you can look at it regularly. Or use something like follow that page to tell you when it changes. Or, god forbid, Microsoft’s own RSS feed.


And finally…


Damn fine cherry pie.


Intersting things i see on the internet, September 25th

< It’s customary to start these things with “well, it’s been a while…” and I don’t see any reason for this one to be different.  I’ve missed a few things, either due to being on leave (Spain. It rained. A LOT.) or extremely busy (thank you, three of our large accounts beginning with “H” – it’s nice to feel wanted) – so, you’ll already be aware of CU6 for 2013, and the associated problems with it (and another one…),as well as the main improvements in there.. You’ll be busy making plans to install Exchange 2010 sp3 RU7. Exchange 2007 sp3 RU14 is also out, but it’s only a DST update. You’ll be aware that windows 2003 goes out of support in 10 months, so you’ll be planning to upgrade to 2012 R2. Note, that’s R2. Everyone is at the very top of their game, and ready to face the challenges that the autumn will bring. Great. Super.


Exchange Design:

Azure AD Sync is available for download. This will greatly simplify office 365 co-existence, apparently. Steve Goodman has a download link for the deck he and Michael Van Hybrid presented from at the UC Birmingham Users Group, here. Microsoft have published a handy feature comparison with Dirsync and FIM as well. Here’s a really enthusiastic article on it.


Exchange Troubleshooting:

The litigation hold problem in exchange 2013 is explained from a MS viewpoint here. Bharat Suneja has apparently tweeted that the fix will be included in CU7, which should be due out the end of November.

Clint Boessen discovers a problem with exporting mailboxes from exchange 2007 with Outlook 2010. The fix is to uninstall a couple of updates to outlook 2010.

A recent update to Google Chrome breaks OWA in exchange 2013 and office 365.

There are some new guided walkthroughs for Exchange, Lync Sharepoint and Office365. These assist you in troubleshooting or common configuration tasks, extremely worthwhile.

Nuno Mota is halfway through his “email forensics” series on – two more parts to go.

Jeff Guillet has an article on extended message tracing in office 365.


Exchange General:

This article from Ross Smith will be timely for some of you, I know, in which he explains how to protect against rogue administrators.

A nice tip and explanation on how to set AdminSessionADSettings ViewEntireForest to “true” by default from Rhoderick Milne. If you slightly adapt the advice in Bharat’s post here, you’re laughing.

Damian Scoles has a script for examining mail quotas in exchange 2013. I daresay with a little hacking about it’ll work equally well for 2010. He’s promising to update it as well… he also has an interesting post on using powershell for reporting.

How to move domains and settings from one EOP organization to another, in the case of a merger or a divestment or what-have-you.

There’s a brief summary and wrap-up of Exchange Connections, plus here’s Tony Redmond’s new podcast (with Paul Robichaux). Well, it’ll be there soon.

Anderson Patricio has published another instalment of his series on managing mailbox features through corporate profiles.

Michael B Smith has published a script that automates getting CAS configs. Looks useful.


Core General:

How to share regedit favorites between machines. Really. I can think of only a few uses for this, but the explanation is so cool I wanted to share it.

IPv6 nonsense, continued. Basically, if you’ve followed Microsoft’s advice on how to disable IPv6 then there’s a five second delay on boot you can remove. (note that’s *how to* disable it, not *to* disable. The general advice is unchanged. Disabling IPv6 is unsupported. Don’t do it.)

Microsoft learning are introducing online proctoring for MCP exams in America. I daresay this will make its way to the UK eventually. More here.

Message analyser v1.1 has been released. This makes me happy. I like message analyser because, to quote my colleague Mr Christie, “this knocks wireshark out of the park for non-networkheads”. It truly does. Lots of resources for those who want to get started here.

Samuel Drey has a great post on building system monitor consoles in Excel for monitoring perfmon counters.


Office 365:

Dave Gregory has started an ADFS deep-dive series on the askPFE platforms blog. How good is it? I’ll let him speak for it himself:

the power of the SSO experience and the underlying technology is transformative” (obviously this time they’re all for the federation).

The Microsoft Federation Gateway has had a certificate updated, so you’ll need to update your federation trust metadata. Rhoderick Milne has the scoop on it.

An explanation of the office 365 onboarding benefit process. And here is the office 365 etc etc

Why isn’t office 365 spam proof? Eh?

Brad Anderson has an interesting blog called “in the cloud”. He’s just published a good article on secure e-mail with mobile devices. The pictures are rotten, though.

How would you like a teeny amount of control over office 365 updates. Go on… you would you would you would. Actually, “teeny” is probably overstating it.



An update to the “top support solutions for Lync 2013” article. And one for Lync 2010.

An interesting post from Jeff Schertz on different Lync modalities. I had to look up modalities to understand it.

Richard Brynteson has a quick tip on automating the sending of reports from the SQL reporting server. His post includes the line “Make sure that the SMTP Server is setup to accept anonymous relay as there are no authentication options available from this management interface.” Better not, though, eh? Try following the method here for configuring the receive connector as “externally secured” instead.

And, finally, the people who brought you the ummm… “interesting” super sigma and psychomagician video on Exchange 2013 exams (simply awful, according to Tony Redmond) have produced another fix for a problem you didn’t even know you had. That’s right, certified MCP t-shirts for your Xbox avatar.

They are certified MCPs

It’s the end times, isn’t it? Time to start stocking up on corned beef.


If you’ve made it this far, have 15% off an MCP exam. You deserve it.

Intersting things I have seen on the internet, July 14th

First off – interesting things from the word of TMG – TMG 2010 SP2 RU5 is now available. Gosh. I’d also like to shout about this exciting development; Clint Huffman, the excellent engineer who is responsible for the PAL has written a book. It’s a touching tale of an orphan boy who is befriended by hedgehogs in Edwardian-era Leeds  about  windows performance analysis, unsurprisingly, it’s published in October, and it’s available for pre-order right now. If it’s half the book it could be, it will replace “Moby dick” on the nightstand, for me. Daddy loves perfmon.


Exchange Design:

An interesting summary of the current “why the hell doesn’t Exchange support NFS?” debate from Michel de Rooij. He makes the point toward the end that just because something works, doesn’t mean it’s supportable. An example is Exchange on AWS – you’re welcome to try it but your exchange support comes from Amazon, not Microsoft. Tony Redmond’s post on it is likewise interesting – notice Devin Ganger’s comments at the bottom – read them in conjunction with his blog post last week about virtualization technologies not being ready for exchange yet and it’s no wonder so many exchange implementations get into trouble.


Exchange Troubleshooting:

In 2013, if you update the notes field of a contact via a mobile device, it winds up blank. Known issue. Not yet fixed.

Using logparser to see what is using EWS…

A quick powershell one-liner for deleting IIS logs… why do you want to delete iis logs? Because there’s farsands of ‘em.

Farsands of ’em.

If you’ve just migrated a user from exchange 2003, you might not be able to open outlook if they have invalid characters in their legacyExchangeDN attribute.

“the Microsoft exchange administrator has made a change…” prompt cont’d – incorrectly decommissioning public folders can trigger it.


Exchange General:

Message recall. It’s garbage, basically, isn’t it? here are some suggestions for ways to make it less smelly.

A picture is worth a thousand words so here’s a cracking little script to display mailbox growth graphically. I prefer a pie chart personally. A pie would be even better.

Always handy to know; how to install the latest applicable updates for Microsoft outlook. It now covers how to use OffCAT to help you, as well. That’s right, no more hunting through binary versions – OffCAT will tell you which updates you need.

Damian Scoles, Exchange MVP and Unified  Comms guru is building a new lab. I now have lab envy. I’m running a 64GB ESXi 5.5 hypervisor on a fujitsu rx200 s6 with 6TB of iSCSI SAN and it’s clearly too damn small. Sigh.

Tony Redmond discusses the parlous state of Exchange Search, here. And that’s in office 365. It’s worse when you have to try and keep the services running yourself… 😀


Core General:

If Kerberos authentication is required, then a forest trust is necessary. I don’t care what it says on technet.

Elden Christensen has some interesting thoughts on sizing windows 2012 clusters. He also has an idiosyncratic way of spelling “chassis”.

Troubleshooting certificate errors with message analyzer – this is way cool even if they’re using a beta version…

Discussion of a useful tool for configuring ACLs

Gary Siepser explains why | fl  and | fl * return different result sets in powershell.


Office 365:

What’s new for June 2014, according to the office blog. Mostly Lync it seems.

Tony Redmond’s thoughts on Wave 16… probably a must-read for everybody…

A handy video summary of the new features of office 365 enterprise. “Enjoy your office instantly – wherever you go”. Sounds more like a threat to me.

The current top issues for outlook with office 365 – good idea to look here before wondering why things don’t work…

IDFix and the new fast-track onboarding process explained on channel 9.



If you’re new to lync, or contemplating the exams, as I am (in the same way as I’m contemplating my own mortality, with a sense of hopeful procrastination), then you may find the legendary techy’s new lync lab series of interest. If that all looks too manual for you and  you have access to a meaty windows 2012 box with hyper-V installed then you may prefer the lynclabonline script.

There have been some changes recently to the Lync Validator – it’s now hosted on Azure, for a start… What’s Lync Validator? Rob Brynteson’s online Lync 2013 design validation tool. Why not go and have a look at it over at


And finally…


It’s cleaner than water, it’s cheaper than porter, it’s GIN.


Interesting things that i see on the internet, 30th May.


Ever wanted to know more about 3d printing? Course you have. How about two and a half hours of video on it, then? Channel 9 have done a video series overview that covers the hardware, software, use of kinect as a scanner and lots more on this that I will definitely watch once I have time – I’m planning on breaking a leg later this year, which will be an ideal opportunity.


Also, you may find something of interest in this post regarding self-training  from Ed Baker. It’s no surprise he works for Microsoft… however there is a new gamification attempt over at the MVA – wanna be a superhero? Thought not.


Exchange Design:

How to create a group policy that will add your ADFS servers to the local intranet group for users, facilitating single sign on.

Really, you’re not as clever as you think you are. Why you should avoid manual server hardening.


Exchange Troubleshooting:

Andrew S Higginbotham is one of the best exchange support guys around. His blog is always worth a read, and his latest post is no exception – basically, the customer had a little bit of a problem, and in trying to fix it, they created a bloody great massive one. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

My friend Justin Harris has written two great posts on his blog, discussing ways of troubleshooting two common problems in Exchange 2013; using get-servercomponentstate when  services are stopped unexpectedly, and how to use pipeline tracing when transport agents are shot. Justin passed his MCM qual lab first time, and is therefore officially “insanely clever”.


Recent knowledgebase articles:

If you used the hybrid configuration wizard with exchange 2010, and then upgraded to 2013, you may be struck by this: “‎Subtask Configure execution failed” error when you run the Hybrid Configuration Wizard in Exchange 2013 after an upgrade from Exchange 2010

Don’t set the receive connector on your multirole exchange 2013 box to “hub transport” – it’ll break when you upgrade to SP1: The front-end Microsoft Exchange Transport service stops and does not restart after you upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 SP1

I’ve not called out the kb articles associated with sp3 ru6 or 2013 cu5 – have a look at the articles below for links. I’ll make an exception for “Store.exe crashes if you create a deeply nested subfolder in Outlook” though. we recently had exactly this problem with Exchange 2007 sp3 ru13 – as there are no more rollups coming out for 2007 by the look of it, then those of you on that product will remain vulnerable. I’m going to do a proper article on how to diagnose it and fix it in the very near future, honest.


Exchange General:

Exchange 2013 CU5 and Exchange 2010 SP3 RU6 have been released this week. As well as the EHLO blog posts, it’s probably worth casting an eye over Rhoderick Milne’s assessment of them; CU5 and RU6. Are you going to rush off and install them? I’d leave it a week or so and see who moans about what. So far this is the only thing I’ve seen for 2013 (Exchange Shared Cache Service restarts frequently in Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 5), but I’d give it a few days more yet…

There is a always a huge amount of confusion over shared folders, especially calendars. Sam Drey answers the question “Is the calendar connection opened “on access” or is the connection made everytime the user opens Outlook?”

So you want secure remote powershell – why you don’t do it by just setting it on the powershell virtual directory (you break powershell ,and then you can’t use powershell to fix it)


Core General:

I found a link to a Mark Russinovich video on Channel 9, the microsoft “tv station”, which was great for three reasons – first, it’s Mark Russinovich (may his tribe increase), second it had links to a whole lot more of his stuff from this year’s Tech Ed, and thirdly it led me on to two links for stuff I’d not really bothered looking at before; the Defrag Show, a 25 minute troubleshooting show which has some great tips and tricks, and, even more excitingly, the Defrag Tools show, which is an irregular yet frequent deep dive into the troubleshooting tools used on the Defrag Show… this stuff is great – an hour on performance counters? You bet. Walkthroughs of analysing crashes and hangs, message analyzer, systinternals tools. This is essential stuff.

Also on channel 9 is this great link which has all the exam prep videos from TechEd – 75 minute presentations on common exams – including Exchange, Windows, Lync… you’re all doing exams, all the time, so I daresay this will be of some use…

They’re more alike than you might think – Andrew S Higginbotham uses ESEUTIL to fix an AD problem.

It’s the end-times, I tell ya. Powershell DSC. For linux.

A reminder that Microsoft release security updates as DVD ISO images – that’s handy for those of us with labs that are isolated from the internet.

A great article from Tom Moser on the AskPFE blog on how DCs are located across forest trusts. This is part two – part one was a year ago, and is here. This is the real stuff, and will give you a lovely warm glow when you’ve read it. for the third or fourth time, in my case.

Some new knowledgebase articles have been published:

You hopefully aren’t using iSCSI, but if you are, here’s another thing that doesn’t work very well: List of iSCSI targets may be truncated or missing

I know we’ve got some customers who do this sort of thing: You cannot create more than four SMTP virtual servers in Windows Server 2008 R2


Office 365:

Learn more about Support issues with Office 365 Message Encryption (OME), an easy-to-use service.

This might be a bit noddy for you all, but maybe not: Simplifying the Office 365 admin experience

The official Microsoft “security in Office 365” white paper was updated recently. I don’t know what the changes were, though. you might want to have a look.

Tony Redmond has written an interesting piece explaining how changes are introduced in Office 365.



Software defined networking for lync and unified comms. It’s coming someday, or maybe.

Jeff Schertz has written another blog post in his series on H.264 Scalable Video Coding  implementation in Lync 2013. See all of them here.


And finally,


Ever wondered how they laid transatlantic cables in the 50’s? well, wonder no longer. AT&T have released some video from their archives. It’s more interesting than I’ve made it sound.


So what will I learn in 2014?

most of the last 18 months was spent studying for, failing and then passing my Microsoft Certified Master in Exchange 2010; i then had to spend four months in a darkened room recovering from the qual lab. there are those, like Richard Timmering, who can just breeze through this stuff, with their brains the size of planets, but it damn near saw me off.

finally, now though, i feel sufficiently recovered that i can contemplate learning something else, so i’ve been having a think about what i want and need to do. first off, there’s the stuff i need to learn for work:

  • Powershell; my skills are appalling. i need to get to the point where i’m happy writing mid-length scripts in powershell 2.0, and comfortable using 3.0.
  • Exchange 2013 – my mad skillz are kept sharp through troubleshooting, and as most of my customers are on 2010, that’s the product i’m comfortable with.
  • office 365 – as above. however, i know this year i’m going to be exposed to hybrid environments, so sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “lalalaaaa” is no longer a useful coping strategy.
  • lync. sigh.

and then there’s the things i’d like to get good at for work:

  • multi-tenant hosting with 2010/2013. we don’t do it, but people keep talking about it.
  • zimbra – always useful to have a different perspective
  • automated scripting of labs – something a bit like the lync online lab script, but for exchange 2010. i’m going to have to completely reconfigure my lab anyway this year, root out the 2003 and start building a decent 2013 environment, rather than the gimcrack thing i’m currently mucking about with.

it’ll be awfully dull if all i do is vendor stuff for the day job though, so i’ve been thinking about what i should be planning toward. i did a MSc 8 years ago, which i found to be a thoroughly rewarding experience, even if i’ve not done a lot with it, so i’d quite like to do something similar to that again. with that in mind, i’ve been browsing the University of Hertfordshire post grad site, specifically the list of PhD topics. However, it’s pretty clear that my 20 year old vintage undergrad maths isn’t going to stand scrutiny for the more interesting subjects, so first of all i need to get back up to speed with calculus and the rest of it. My programming is likewise ropey, so i shall be hitting the MOOCs in the first half of this year. the maths particularly will be handy – with a fifteen year old maths wiz daughter i need to be on my toes, and i’m fed up of being considered stone-age because i don’t recall the quick way to do quadratics.

so in short, this year i’ll also be:

i’ll be using this blog to keep track of what i’m doing, so please feel free to suggest anything that might be useful.