Category Archives: Guides

Webmail on a Netbook

Amid the praise for and complaints about the newer version of webmail, we received a plea from a netbook user. She pointed out that the new layout made it very difficult to navigate among her mail folders. I use a netbook myself, and I thought I’d share some things that we can do to improve our browsing from a netbook. Specifically, we’re going to take webmail from this:

Webmail on a netbook - before

to this:

Webmail on a netbook - after

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How to catch a phish

I’ve received several phishing attempts, recently, this time masquerading as mail from Twitter. I thought I’d share how I recognized this as an attack. Many list members already know this stuff, but I thought I’d share since we still see folks responding to these kinds of attacks.

1. Unexpected

Before I even looked at the content of the message, I was suspicious because I don’t have any twitter stuff associated with my UVM email. I could have deleted the message then and, if I was using twitter, logged into my twitter account directly to see if something was going on.

But I wondered how the message was crafted, so I opened it with awareness.

2. False link

A false link is shows a web address in the message, but the link that is attached to it is different. Below, my mail program shows that the link will actually send me to pachitanglangbarcelona.com.

twitter-scam-ol

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Microsoft Office Troubleshooting

Recently, I was asked to talk with our Help Line staff about strategies for troubleshooting problems with Microsoft Office. I spent some time addressing the activation issues relating specifically Office 2010, which I wrote up in a separate post.

The most important point I want to make about general Office troubleshooting is that reinstalling office will rarely fix a problem. Office will kick-off a repair operation automatically if it detects problems with core Office files. Application, heal thyself.

More importantly, a repair operation or uninstall/reinstall process will refresh Office program components, but it won’t touch templates, user and system specific registry information, and add-ins that are the most frequent cause of problems.

Safe mode

The first step in troubleshooting should be to start the application in safe mode. Most versions of Office applications support a safe mode, which doesn’t load templates, registry info, and add-ins. This step quickly determines whether the problem lies with Office itself or elsewhere.

Invoking Office safe mode is as easy as adding the command-line parameter /safe. Usually, I open the Run window (WindowsKey+R), and type the name of the office executable and add the /safe parameter. If you don’t know the executable name, you can find it with the browse button, and then add the parameter at the end:

office14-safemode-run

If the app doesn’t start, then you probably do need to perform a Repair installation. If the application starts successfully (sometimes without opening a document in safe mode), then you know that the core office files are fine, and a reinstall isn’t likely to help.

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Troubleshooting Office 2010 & 2013 Activation

Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 volume license editions use the Volume License 2.0 mechanism to manage activation. Office 2010 and 2013 will activate against our campus Key Management Service (KMS), without user intervention, in a manner similar to Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Occasionally, the activation process doesn’t work. Problems are usually related to network communication with the KMS. Below are some steps to identify and resolve problems that might occur during activation.

Gather Information.

Gathering data is essential to fixing problems. If you ask me (or other IT staff) for help with Office 2010 activation, the first thing I will ask from you is the output of the commands in the steps below.

There are a few steps that will make it easy to collect all the output of your troubleshooting steps.

  • Open an elevated Command Prompt (Run As Administrator)
  • Change the Properties of the command prompt window to increase the Screen Buffer
    height to, say, 3000 lines. This will prevent you losing earlier steps as the lines scroll off the screen.
  • Run cscript /h:cscript, which changes the default script host to cscript, so that output will go to the command prompt instead of a pop-up dialog box.

When you are ready to copy the text from the command prompt, right-click the title bar of the window, select Edit > Select All, and then Control-C to Copy the text to the clipboard. Then you can paste the text to any place you want; a webmail message, a footprint entry, or a text file in notepad.

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Troubleshooting Windows Activation

I recently helped a colleague with a Windows Vista Activation problem. The client system, running Vista Enterprise SP1, was unable to activate against our KMS Server. Since the system had SP1, the client was spared Reduced Functionality Mode, but she was getting frequent Windows Genuine warnings.

Here are some troubleshooting steps — for my future reference as much as anyone else’s — for for gathering information for diagnosing and resolving Vista and Windows 7 activation issues.

Quick Fix: Try this first!

Most Windows activation issues I’ve encountered are resolved by entering the appropriate product key (not a secret; see footnote):

Vista Enterprise Volume: VKK3X-68KWM-X2YGT-QR4M6-4BWMV
Windows 7 Enterprise Volume: 33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH

If you’re in Reduced Functionality mode, one of the options on the Windows Activation dialog box is to re-type or enter a new product key. Reduced Functionality mode has been removed from Vista SP1; however, alerts will still be presented. Alternatively, a new product key can be entered in the System control panel.

In either case, enter the code above and attempt to reactivate. If it works, you should be all set. If it doesn’t, the following steps will help identify the issue.

Gathering Information.

Gathering data is essential to fixing problems. If you ask me (or other IT staff) for help with Windows activation, the first thing I will ask from you is the output of the commands below.

I recommend opening a text editor and copying all the commands and output into a file, which you can send to us if you need additional help resolving the activation issue.

NOTE: All these steps require running commands from a console window (cmd.exe), which you may need to run As Administrator. These commands work in both Windows Vista and Windows 7.

1. Run ipconfig /all to capture current IP configuration information.

This could tell us whether the system is in a netreg-ed subnet and needs to register at http://netreg.uvm.edu, or if there are other basic network configuration problems. We really just need the Ethernet adapter, assuming that’s what is being used to connect the system to the network. We don’t need all the additional tunneling adapters, etc. If someone is using a wireless adapter, possibly with the VPN client, then info about those adapters also should be captured.

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Using Outlook 2007 at UVM

Please note: Microsoft Outlook is not among the recommended email clients supported by ETS. However, I use it regularly to access my UVM email (along with Pine and Thunderbird), and I offer the following instructions to help folks who really want to use Outlook 2007 here at UVM. —Geoff

We’re going to walk through the steps required to configure Outlook 2007 as an email client of the University’s central mail services. Microsoft has improved the IMAP support in Outlook with this latest version, and the configuration is more straight-forward.

Please note that you can click on any screenshot to get a larger (i.e., legible) version. Now let’s dig in.

When we first start Outlook 2007, the Account Configuration wizard will start. “Yes” is selected by default (we do want to configure our email account, don’t we?), so we’ll click next.

screen shot of dialog box

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SyncML on Windows Mobile 5

I’ve been using the Synthesis SyncML client to synchronize my calendar information between my Oracle Calendar Server (OCS) agenda and my Treo700w calendar. It is important to note that, per the vendor’s recommendations, I’m using the back-level 2.5.0.69 client, rather than the newer 3.0x client. Update: The UVM Calendar server has been upgraded, and the current version (3.0.222 at the time of this edit) of SyncML works fine.

I downloaded the Zip file from Synthesis AG, which contains the program install file (syncml_std_en.PPCWM.CAB) as well as documentation. Because I’m using the Treo with Windows Vista, I don’t have ActiveSync. To install the software, I copied the CAB to my Treo, then used File Explorer to locate and install the SyncML application.

Synthesis SyncML will appear in the Programs list:

Windows Mobile Programs screen

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