Apr 072011
 

This one had me chewing my teeth for a few days, but it looks like it’s been worked out.  The issue is that a user will try to insert a PDF into a PowerPoint file (any version 2003/2007/2010), and they receive the following error:

The Server Application, source file, or item cannot be found, or returned an unknown error. You may need to reinstall the server application.

PDF to PPTX Error

You can try to insert via Insert Tab—>Object—>Adobe Acrobat PDF or dragging and dropping the PDF directly into the PowerPoint file.  The fix for this I found after posting to the Adobe forums. Disable Protected mode if you are running Adobe Reader X. (this is accurate as of v 10.0.1)

Disable protected mode manually by choosing Edit > Preferences > General tab and deselecting Enable Protected Mode. The fix wasn’t immediate for me oddly enough.  It made the “Create New” button work for inserting, but not “Create From File”.  This behavior ended after a day, perhaps a reboot is in order after changing the setting.  Either way, it worked!

Let me know if you’ve had a different experience. More importantly, update the Adobe forum threads discussing this if you have additional info to add.

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May 262010
 

This is a point of some mild irritation for me. First, I’ll explain what is installed on your computer, and their password requirements.

When you use the MSOL service, you install their Sign In tool. This tool’s purpose is to manage the various applications you have available to you as part of their BPOS suite, and to log you in automatically. It’s very similar to something like the Google Talk client when you remove the “Talk” part of the client’s function. It logs you in, and provides updates to your online service.

Next, is their password requirements:

– At least 7 characters.  [No arguments here.]

– A combination of Upper and Lower case letters. [yay!]

– At least one number or symbol. [Perfect. More secure than my bank which actually disallows symbols]

– Cannot change your password more than once in 24 hours. [Eh?  I know this is to defeat people who change their passwords multiple times to get back around to their original password. But read the next bullet…]

– Cannot re-use your previous 25 passwords. [TWENTY FIVE??? With the previous bullet item in effect, this rule effectively just tracks your ability to track your progress through 25 combinations of Password01 through Password25. This adds nothing but trouble for IT who has to explain why their email password is impossible to remember. My prediction: Everyone in the company has a Post-It note stuck to their monitor with a number between 1 and 25 written on it… If we’re lucky.  In reality, it’ll probably be the whole password.

I thought I’d take some time and add a few more helpful rules.

– You may not use any letter or number that you used in your previous eleven password changes.
– Submit your identity for a background check and home inspection so we can be sure you’re not using a family member/pet name or birthday.
– Hold the laser in your mouse up to your eye for a retina scan

Ok, I’m feeling a little better. Moving on to a new complaint. We all know how users can be about changing their passwords.  They wait until the very last day, often only changing it when Windows refuses to let them log into their computers without doing so.  (I certainly do this with my domain login.) With the Sign In tool, you receive daily notification at about two weeks out that your password is expiring. No problem there. My problem lies in what happens when your passwords DO expire.

  1. Your email just stops sending/receiving.
  2. The icon in your system tray that reports that you are signed in still says you are signed in, and never provides a popup letting you know your password has expired.
  3. Outlook throws the following helpful box up at you:

Ah, good old RED001.local.  Users know what to do with that, don’t they?  Don’t get me wrong here, users had to ignore 10-20 notifications that this day was coming in order to get here, but that is what users do. Software needs to be tolerant of this. I have a request in with Microsoft to improve how their tool works and I’ll update this when I get their response.

Apr 142010
 

Associating Javascript in Command ShellI ran across this error a few days ago while setting up a PHP server on my Windows XP Pro SP3 box for testing purposes.  As part of this setup, a script needs to be run that associates the .php extension with php-cgi.exe. Here is the script:

cscript %windir%\system32\inetsrv\fcgiconfig.js -add -section:"PHP" ^
-extension:php -path:"C:\PHP\php-cgi.exe"

The problem, is that when I tried to run the script, I got the error: Input Error: There is no script engine for file extension “.js”. It took me quite a bit of searching before I found the fix that worked for me on this IBM forum. Hopefully, if you’re facing this issue, you find my article before the 100 other articles talking about the 99 other fixes that didn’t work for me. :) Continue reading »

Windows Search. Kill it with fire?

 How-To, Windows 7  Comments Off on Windows Search. Kill it with fire?
Mar 192010
 

Indexing[1] I wanted to take a moment and talk about this feature Windows added awhile back.  I know quite a few people who when ‘optimizing’ a computer will go through a ritual of setting certain things up, and removing other processes/programs. I have a ritual like this, and I’ll admit some of it might be voo-doo or superstition. One of these often targeted programs is Windows Search, and I don’t think it necessarily deserves to have its service disabled as a setup measure.

Windows Search 4.0 has a purpose, and it can be pretty handy, depending on how you use your computer. First, it only indexes a few common places (Desktop, My Docs/Pics/etc, Email). What does it mean to index vs. plain old search?  When you search your hard drive with Search Companion, your computer is taking the time to look at each file, determine if it meets your criteria, and moving on. With Indexing, it searches beforehand (this is the thing people complain is slowing their computers), and places all the relevant data into a database. When you perform a search with Indexing, it can sort the database, and find your answer MUCH faster. The key is to limit how much work it is to maintain that database. Continue reading »

Using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted with Outlook 2003/2007

 MSOL Exchange Hosted  Comments Off on Using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted with Outlook 2003/2007
Mar 142010
 

MSOL Hosted ExchangeThis article is covering my thoughts on the usability of Outlook using MSOL’s Exchange Hosted, I will cover the administration in a later post. If I was going to throw a rating out there it’d be a solid 8/10, with a perfect 10 being a local connection to a healthy Exchange server. Keep in mind as I review this service, I’m looking at it from the point of view of a user in a small business who is migrating from an Exchange server.

Pros:

  • Your data can’t get any safer. It’s locked away in a Microsoft data center, not on some tapes that you’re supposed to bring home, but in reality you just leave them on the table by the server. OK, you take them home and stick them on the table by the door so you won’t forget them.  Either way, Microsoft is being safer with your data than you likely are. Or at least I hope so.
  • Universal accessibility. Your Exchange server is now outside your company’s little walled domain. No VPN required, users get the same email experience at home as they have at work, and it all stays in sync.  This means calendars, free/busy time, email, public folders that are hosted by MSOL, OWA and ActiveSync connectivity for mobile devices, everyone gets easy full access to it. This is huge, and outweighs many cons for us.
  • Easy to set up. You install the Microsoft Online Sign In tool, give it your login and password, then press two simple buttons to set up the machine. A user who is not technically adept can be sent a link to the download with simple instructions, and they will not have a problem getting it up and running. Well, on second thought, no guarantee on the prior statement.

Continue reading »

What to do with Windows 7 libraries?

 How-To, Windows 7  Comments Off on What to do with Windows 7 libraries?
Mar 112010
 

Windows 7 LibraryThey’re one of the neatest features of Windows 7.  They’re in your face, all clickable, and …useful?  What do you DO with them? Is it just a fancy name for My Documents and My Music? How do I make Windows 7 Libraries do something new? I was right there with you when I started using Windows 7.

First, however… They are not new!

Believe it or not, the core functionality of a library (known as a virtual folder) first entered the Windows environment with Vista, where they were known as Search Folders. They operated a little differently, and were less in your face.  Couple that with the fact that next to no one used Vista, and you have all you need to know about why they feel all fresh and new.

Libraries are virtual folders that don’t actually exist in the folder tree on the hard disk. Their job is to run a constant search, index the results, and display them to you inside the virtual folder. So… what do you do with them?

Give your C:\ some room to breathe!

The simplest and best use for libraries is to allow you to store data  on another drive without having to look elsewhere to find it later. I’ll use the Music library as an example.
Continue reading »

MSOL Exchange Hosted Migration

 MSOL Exchange Hosted, W2K Migration  Comments Off on MSOL Exchange Hosted Migration
Mar 102010
 

MSOL Hosted ExchangeSo, What is the process like, you ask?  It’s a lot to describe, feel free to ask for more details, I’m skipping over a lot to keep this post from becoming a novel. I also have a little amnesia from the night. Not everything went as smoothly as we’d hoped, and it was a little too crazy to take notes.

The first thing I want to make clear is that if Microsoft offers $500 to hire the firm that helps you migrate your data, take note: This is a coupon. (This was not made clear to us by Microsoft, which was no fault of our consultants’) The actual cost of the consultants that you hire to migrate your data varies greatly based on the level of involvement you require of them.  In our case, we have a pretty technically adept IT dept, and they still quoted us $2000, even after the $500 discount.  Not an unreasonable fee when you look at the services they were offering and the amount of time they were going to spend. But our proposal to our boss was written based on the quote that Microsoft gave us, that had us believing $500 was covering the complete cost of the migration. After a little negotiation, we were able to get the quote down to under a grand, and had it based on hours instead of a flat fee.

So, what did these people do?  The biggest part is they help you plan. We had a great plan from the start, but they make sure you cover all of your bases.
Continue reading »

Windows 2000 Server, we were never friends.

 W2K Migration  Comments Off on Windows 2000 Server, we were never friends.
Mar 052010
 

Windows 2000 Server You were the ancient beige computer that took 10-15 minutes to reboot, and moved so slowly that I could hear your little 20GB hard drive crying out for help.  In your defense, I never knew you in your prime. Before you had 10 years of security updates shoved down your throat.  Coming 7/13/2010, all that will come to an end, and you can finally rest.

I work for a small business with 50 employees and 15 servers.  On the surface, this seems ridiculous. Part of this is because of downsizing:  8 years ago, these 15 servers were modern, sleek, and serving twice as many employees.  Part of this is because we offer many services to our employees that many small businesses do not: Two in house exchange servers, VPN, webserver, forums, redundant domain controllers, etc.  But the largest part of this is because of a mentality that many businesses are stuck in. It worked yesterday, it worked today, why should I spend the money to upgrade it?

There’s some perfectly rational arguments to this.
Continue reading »

Windows Media Player, we were such good friends.

 How-To  Comments Off on Windows Media Player, we were such good friends.
Mar 042010
 

NOT emptyI spent days organizing my music, fixing tags, and you faithfully kept track of my changes.  Where did I overstep my bounds? Was it asking for volume leveling? I think it was.

As the picture shows, WMP12 believed my library was empty, and no amount of option changing, folder adding, or applying of changes would change that.  I’d like to thank Mike Woelmer at srtsolutions for pointing me to the quick fix.  …if you don’t mind rebuilding the whole damn library, it works like a charm!

In these steps, you will delete all library information. It won’t delete any real data that WMP 12 won’t be able to rebuild with a little time.

  1. Shutdown Windows Media Player.
  2. Stop the media sharing service.  Press the Windows Key+R to launch the Run box. Type Services.msc and hit enter to launch the Services panel.
  3. Scroll down and right-click on the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service and select Stop.
  4. Navigate to %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player.
  5. Delete the file(s) named CurrentDatabase_*.wmdb and the file(s) named LocalMLS_*.wmdb.
  6. Back in the Services panel, right click and choose start for Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Close the Services panel.
  7. Open WMP. It should start building your library again.

…is 102GB alot?