Archive for Troubleshooting

Managing Email

Okay, show of hands. Who hates email? Everyone? Yes me too. So what do we do about it? Keep bitching on twitter? I vote no.

Seriously, what is the problem with email? Too much? Lack of context? Silos of information? All of those things are true and I believe there’s a ton of room for innovation. We’ll look at a few services that are trying to fix email, and try to shed some light on the challenges and hopefully help you find a solution that will work for you.

Email as To-Do app

Email is not a to-do list, but the reality is that we often use it as such. But what happens when something is “below the fold”? If it doesn’t get handled in a day or so, it can easily fall off the radar. In some organizations, a tool like might be appropriate. It only shows you email you haven’t replied to. Once replied to, the email is hidden. What if you do reply, but forgot to cc your team? Instantly you’ve lost a contextual piece of the conversation and there isn’t a convenient way to resolve it unless you move to a more traditional ticketing/helpdesk type of solution. We’ve seen folks use a single email account, always cc it and use Gmail labels to help classify the conversations. See

sanebox (all email types)

mailstrom (webapp, supports all email types)

mailbox (iphone, gmail only)

podio, basecamp, sharepoint, teamworkpm,

Your Tier 1 Support is in the Wrong Place

Today we have a guest post from Jennelle Crothers who blogs over at

If you’re having trouble finding good candidates for your Helpdesk, you might want to take a fresh look at someone who is probably already on your staff.

Your Tier 1 Support is in the Wrong Place

Lots of us started there. Depending on the size of the company you work for, you might still be doing some of it.  Classic Tier 1 support calls are often things like password changes, mouse and keyboard issues, other things often resolved with the end user either rebooting their machine and logging out and back in.

And I’m almost certain that you have the wrong people handling that job, particularly if that person is you or someone one your team who is also responsible for other more technical projects. Stick with me on this for a minute.

I’ve always been a big advocate of the administration departments and the IT departments working closely together and I think that any administrative or executive assistant worth their salt can handle most Tier 1 Helpdesk tickets. Here’s why: they already have their hand on the pulse of pretty major areas of your company and often work directly with executives and managers.

They know what guests and visitors are coming to your location – relevant IT tasks include providing WiFi passwords to guests, explaining how to use the phones and A/V systems and alerting IT ahead of time to guest that need additional resources.

They know when Execs are grumbling about IT issues that can become emergencies (noisy hard drives, problems with applications) and can let IT know ahead of time of pending maintenance issues.

They can easily be cc’d on emails regarding upcoming password expiration for key executives or managers and make sure those people complete those tasks in a timely manner. Resetting passwords and unlocking accounts is a easy activity that can be delegated out to admin staff with a quick training session. With the proper permissions, you can only give them the abilities they need and nothing more.

Opening tickets, resetting voicemail passwords for phone systems, replacing batteries in wireless mice, swapping out broken keyboards, changing printer toners, basic troubleshooting of printer jams, updating job titles in Active Directory… That’s just off the top of my head.

So what good could come of this? First off, there is a big lack of women in systems admin roles. I was just on a WiT panel last week discussing how to get more women into this role. Turns out, 3 out of 4 women on the panel started in administrative roles. It’s a great way for someone to get a glimpse into the “plumbing” of how systems and network administration keep businesses running.

Second, most executive assistants are great managers of time and of people, and can often see and understand the big picture of how a company runs, all characteristics that make successful sysadmins. Letting them handle some of the front facing issues can also take away some of the “mystery” of the IT department.

Integrating these two functions can provide a great cost savings to your company, can provide a pipeline of future staff to pull from when you have an opening in the IT department and as a bonus, you’re doing something to help more women begin their technical careers.

So go ahead, steal the receptionist.

Deleted calendar items in other user’s folder don’t sync to Exchange server

SBS 2011 Standard, Outlook 2010, shared calendar.
Odd calendar behavior for a user today. They would delete a calendar entry from their boss’ calendar and it would never sync back to the server. All other calendar functions worked. The deletion would only sync if the user then clicked on that person’s deleted items folder. I think Outlook and Exchange process deletions last, and the mailbox has over 15 thousand items in it. I consider this solved by the workaround until they empty that folder.

Mac parental controls prevent access to Exchange from Outlook 2011

Filing this under really interesting fixes. This issue came up because the user’s account is a managed account in Mac OSX 10.7 and their email account is on an Exchange 2010 server. The user reported being unable to use Outlook. I tried removing and re-adding the account, and was unable to do so because autodiscover kept failing. I’d see the autodiscover prompt and click allow, but it kept reverting back to the prompt. 

In my troubleshooting steps, I checked and it also reported errors with autodiscover.

The normal troubleshooting steps include checking whether you can get  to OWA, but you can’t use https with a managed account! 

I then checked on the parental controls and tried to add the OWA site to the list of allowed websites, but that did not solve the problem. I must have googled for 30 minutes trying to find the fix and stumbled upon this fix which was the solution. It worked! With thanks to


  • open the terminal utility (found in Applications/Utilities/terminal)
  • type host then space then the exchange server name 
  • NewImage

  • copy the IP address it returns
  • type host then space then paste the IP address from the previous step
  • the terminal will return a domain, copy the address after the domain name pointer: NewImage
  • Copy that address and paste it into the list of allowed sites. 
  • NewImage
  • Outlook magically starts working, with other parental controls intact!












Email Overload

Drowning in email?  I have been testing two apps that really seem to make a difference, (web app + any email account) and (iphone + gmail only)

These apps really allow you to make quick decisions about emails, without the fear of losing them. I love the combination so far.

Both of these apps add labels to your Gmail account, as that is the mechanism they use to filter your mail.

Mailbox on iPhone – What’s different?

The Mailbox app uses gestures to handle each email. For example, if I swipe a message gently to the right, it will archive it. If I swipe all the way to the right it gets deleted. If I swipe gently to the left I have options for snoozing a message. This feature is awesome as it gets the email out of my inbox but brings it back at the day or time I choose. The snooze options are thoughtfully designed, Later Today, This Evening, Tomorrow, This Weekend, Next Week, In a month, and Someday. Guess which one is my favorite? Swiping all the way left moves the message into folders (labels in gmail) called To Read, To Buy, etc and these can all be customized to your liking.

Mailboxapp on the web – What’s different?

First, is NOT an email client, you cannot compose new messages from it. It is specifically designed to help you filter, file and cleanup your mailbox. You can sort by sender, subject, social, etc. I find it’s faster to use than searching in Gmail. You can see who abuses your email address the most.

Screen Shot 2013 04 03 at 8 19 18 AM

Both of these apps have a significant waiting list. That means they’re only accepting new users at a certain pace. While I understand needing to scale servers to support user growth, the wait is a little bit ridiculous.What’s the catch?

Let me know your thoughts on these services.


terminal server has exceeded the maximum number of allowed connections

Last week I was working with a colleague on a server migration project, and between the two of us we’d left sessions open and were locked out. Thankfully I had a Log Me In connection to this server but even that remote control was stalled out. Fortunately there’s a GUI command line. I used this command to resolve the issue:

query session /server:servername

Once I sorted out which session I wanted to kill, I used this command:

reset session [ID] /server:servername

Thanks to How To Geek for the reminder


How to get the free version of Google Apps

If you’re searching for a very low cost email, contacts and calendaring solution and don’t need the power of Microsoft Exchange, you might look at Google Apps. The only challenge you will face is that Google makes it very difficult to find their free version. In fact, when you sign up, you’ll likely be put into a 30 day trial of their paid version. To convert your account, you could hunt and peck around the web or just read my blog for the instructions as I’ve done the hunting for you! Here’s the link on their help site (incredibly hard to find IMHO) Cancel Google Apps for Business 30-day free trial – Google Apps Help.

1st navigate to the Domain tab and click Subscriptions, then click “Cancel Google Apps for Business” at the bottom right. Don’t be alarmed, you aren’t actually undoing all your work, they just want to scare you.







Next, click the Downgrade button




That’s it! You won’t get all the benefits of the paid version, however for a small business just getting started, perhaps this is all you need.


Considering Office 365 for your small business?

Small businesses, beware the Office 365 fine print | ZDNet.

If you like to send a lot of email, take a look at this article on ZDNet on the Office 365 sending limits. Details are still emerging and while I ultimately believe this will get fixed if enough people get hurt by it, it doesn’t inspire confidence.

Small business accounts are limited to 500 recipients per 24 hours and enterprise accounts are limited to 1500. Office 365 technical support was unable to tell me when the limitation is reset… They also said it is very difficult to upgrade from a small business to enterprise Office 365 account. I would need to create a whole new account and migrate the domain and users, so that is not an option.

The worst thing about this is that there is no way for support to override it. The user is left to sit without being able to send e-mail for 24 hours with absolutely no recourse. I understand that it is an automated feature put in place to prevent spam, but once the user has spoken to support and it has been verified as a legitimate use, there should be some way to override the limit.


I’ll stick with my hosted exchange, thank you very much.

Windows 8 Has Finally Updated the Blue Screen of Death

Windows 8 Has Finally Updated the Blue Screen of Death.

From, the greatest website EVER.

Looking forward the next “consumer” version of the Windows operating system, it seems they got the message that user errors can be teaching tools to the user. I think more transparency in this industry can only be an improvement.

What areas of IT would YOU like to see more transparency in? Can we collectively work toward this goal? Why or why not?

I just wonder who the pop psychologist was that came up with the copy for the new “cute screen of death”?

SMB Nation

One of the most important technical conferences I attend each year is SMB Nation Fall. I am speaking at this year’s conference and I hope you’ll be there too. They are giving away a Harley, so if you’re into that sortof thing, then register today! For our readers, you may receive a 10% discount by entering code “UBERGEEKGIRL” without quotes.  And, if you want to carpool, ping me.

I will be doing a mobility session: GS13 – How the $#%@! do I setup email, calendar and contacts on this phone?!

Don’t miss the 9th Annual SMB Nation Fall conference coming up – end of month. Your VERY BEST RATES expire September 9th – this Friday!!! Visit for details.


What’s New?

More MVPs, More Technical Content , More Advanced Sessions…you told us what you wanted and we delivered! If you’re serious about improving yourself as a technical professional, take the first step and visit our Fall site for more information.  Topics include Office 365 E3, SBSE,  MultiPoint Server (MPS), MSP business models and much more – truly can’t miss content!