Prepping for MSIgnite – Review the session plans.

In just over a month I will be heading down to Florida for Microsoft Ignite (#MSIgnite) – the conference formerly known as TechEd. This is a conference that I’ve always wanted to go to and this year I am finally able to get to go.
It’s a large Microsoft based conference and I know I am going to learn a ton and be extremely tired at the end of the work.

As this is my first visit, I thought I would add some notes over the next few weeks on my planning for #msignite. Feel free to follow along and add any comments and advice to the posts.

Review the session plans

Last week the Myignite site had the session planner activated – there are currently 1124 sessions planned right now and it is essential that you plan the sessions that need to be attended before you go to the conference.
One of the attendees has also released a PowerBI app that gives a really nice graphical browser view to the sessions in a calendar view – This is a browser option only though and doesn’t allow you to add sessions to your calendar/planner.

Neat graphical viewer for #MSIgnite sessions
1500 sessions is pretty overwhelming so I would recommend that you select the subject matter(s) that you are particularly interested in as that will then filter down the list of relevant sessions.

Don’t get too excited and expect the number to drop drastically, especially if you are involved in a lot of subjects. My list of sessions went from 1500 to 540 to pick from.
Select the Personalized sessions edit icon at Personalized session to select the topics you are interested in.

I then went through this list and selected the option to add to schedule option to select all the sessions I am interested in. Some of these sessions are ones that I would want to download and view later, some of them are ones that I want to attend. Right now I do not see a way of prioritizing these sessions as must attend, 1st choice, stream later – hopefully this is possible in the future.

Once you have selected all of the sessions you are interested in, go to my schedule under My Conference/My Schedule and then select the week view. This is where you see that you have probably double, triple or quadruple booked your sessions. This is where the priority options would come in handy so a colour coded view would allow you to see which sessions you really want to go to.

Weekly schedule in Ignite.

Last year there was a mobile app that would help you keep up to date with session changes (there has already been several changes published to the conference page) but I don’t see it available at the moment – there are plenty of ignite 2017 apps in the Google store but none of them are the Microsoft ones (at time of writing)

Ransomware decrypters

Filing for future reference for reference in case of a ransomware infection. This list gathers together a list of tools and references that may allow you to get access back to encrypted files.

Remember the best way to not get infected is to install a cryptolocker prevention tool (I use the Cryptoprevent), watch the sites you go to, educate yourself on what a phishing attack looks like, don’t run as administrator, use opendns (or google safe browsing) and ensure you have a good backup that is not accessible from your normal machine with your normal credentials.

If you know of any others then please let me know.

Edit – https://www.nomoreransom.org/ is also a good resource and probably should be your starting point. It even allows you to upload an encrypted file (or the ransom note) and will then check what version of crypto you have and let you know if there is a decrypter available for you.

Arj compression – anyone remember this?

We had an interesting ticket come in today where an antispam system had let through a file compressed with the arj format. This immediately brought back memories of compressing files back at university – in the very early 90’s and a format that used to be very popular but nowadays most people, including the rest of our techs had never even heard of.
I am guessing the spammers were hoping that their recipients have winzip, winrar or 7zip installed so they will be able to open the infected file and that as the file format is so old, av scanners will not check them.

Anyone else out there remember Arj files and anyone (dare to admit that they) still use it?

Retrieve Mailbox Migration errors for Office365

When you have a lot of mailboxes to migrate, Microsoft’s provided method of viewing the errors involves a tedious amount of clicking by logging into the portal, selecting Exchange, Migration, View details, scroll down to find a failure, select the user, click view details.

Viewing Migration status in Office365

 

Rather than use the tedious method of going into the details, selecting a user and then viewing details, run the following powershell script (once connected using the previous office365 connection script)

get-migrationuser -status failed  | get-migrationuserstatistics | select identity,emailaddress,recipienttype, error,bytestransferred |export-csv c:\temp\migrationstatus.csv

I also have a simple loop that gets me the status once an hour. Obviously change the email address’s appropriately.

while (1)
{
$a=(get-migrationuser | out-string)
send-mailmessage -to myemailaddress@domain.com -subject “Company Migration Stats” -from administrator@company.com -smtpserver my.mailserver.com  -body $a
start-sleep -seconds 3600
}

Install telnet from the command line

pkgmgr /iu:"TelnetClient"

Wait a bit for the install to finish.
I do wish that pkgmgr would actually wait until the install has finished before coming back to a dos prompt as it’s annoying that you have no idea when the install has actually completed. On my machine it takes about 30 seconds.
I’m finding it hard to believe that my laptop did not have telnet on it – as I use it all the time. However whenever I install telnet from the dos prompt I always have to look up the syntax (and it’s still quicker than going into add/remove programs.
Hopefully this blog post will hit the search engines and therefore the syntax will be displayed on the first page rather than having to open a Microsoft page, scroll down and then view the syntax.

Find mailboxes that have the Email Address Policy disabled

Took me a while to work this one out but the powershell line for this is

get-mailbox | where {$_.EmailAddressPolicyEnabled -eq $false}

Or you could switch it to the following but this is less easy to read for junior techs to understand as the ! is not necessarily obvious.

get-mailbox | where {!$_.EmailAddressPolicyEnabled}

Pimp your Powershell Prompt

I use powershell a lot at work – I’m not a guru by any means and I often find it hard to remember the commands I have run in a session, either for future use or for documenting in my time sheet (which also acts as a point of reference for future helpdesk tickets).

When I started going through the Powershell in a month of lunches book (which I highly recommend or the Powershell v3 book) I decided to use the start-transcript commandlet to record all my powershell activities.  This worked very well until I would scroll through several screens worth and then forget what file I had saved my transcript too.  There was also the possibility of forgetting to transcript everything.

By using the powershell profile file I was able to enter the commands to automatically set the transcript to the current date. I was then able to modify the title of the powershell prompt to display the filename so I could always see where the file was saved with the added bonus of a variable being used if I ever needed to open the transcript

My next step was to include the time in the powershell prompt – this enables me to go back through the transcript and see how long it took to run the commands for my timesheet entries.  Remembering back to the good old dos days, I remembered the prompt command. A quick bit of experimenting with the Date command I had the current time displayed at the beginning on the Powershell prompt. Note this is displayed after the previous command is run, so technically it’s not the exact current time, but the time that the prompt was displayed on the screen.

The final profile script can be copy/pasted into notepad by typing in

notepad $profile

is as follows:-

cd \andy\powershellinamonthoflunches

$log="c:\temp\powershelllogs-" + $env.username + (get-date -uformat "%y%m%d-%H%M") + ".txt"
start-transcript $log
$host.ui.rawui.WindowTitle = $log

function prompt
{
write-host ((Date -uformat %T).ToString() + "PS " +$(get-location) + ">") -nonewline
return " "
}

This ends up with a powershell prompt that looks like the following. Hope this brief posting inspires you to change your powershell prompt to be even more useful for you.

 

Powershell prompt with the filename in the title and current time in the prompt

 

Fixed – Office365 journalling does not work for one user

I’ve been working on a case with Microsoft’s Office365 support for several weeks trying to find out why email sent *to* a particular user was not being journalled. All the other mail seemed to be journalled to the external recipient, email from the user was working, just not email to that user.

The experience was quite frustrating as Microsoft’s support were terrible at calling back and could not grasp the concept of email tracking. Their solution after making a change was to wait a day to see if it was fixed although it was quite apparent that the Microsoft servers were not even trying to send the email (by looking at the Trace Logs you can see what email was being sent and received).

After checking the connectors were setup, mail properly scoped, the user had no rules on their mailbox, Microsoft’s solution was to delete the mailbox and reset it up again.  Not so easy when the mailbox/user is federated with Active Directory and the user happens to be the owner of the company. That was not a conversation I was going to have with them!

The only thing that was different with this user was that in troubleshooting this issue we had set the user up to receive the journalling non delivery reports. I figured that if the emails were not being delivered, maybe sending him the errors would help. However no reports were being received either.  However, according to KB 2829319 this behaviour can be seen. Although I had removed the journal receipient in the web gui, the emails were still not being journalled until I added another external email address to the configuration using the powershell command set-transportconfig -JournalingReportNdrTo myemailaddress@somethingorother.com

At this point, all the email started to be journalled.

Note that we only added the recipient into the mix when I was trying to work on the initial problem so it looks like this wasn’t the only fix.

The other thing we did was change the outboundconnector to be onpremises. Changing the setting in the GUI we then ran Set-OutboundConnector archivemymailconnector -routeAllmessagesviaonpremises $true.

 

These two combinations seemed to fix the issue.

One thing I also learnt was that it is really useful to send multiple emails between changes and keep the subject line starting the same. Use the date/time at the end of the email. That way you can sort the email logs by Subject and just pick out the ones you were working on. By having the subject start with zzz followed by Round X (ie zzz Round 1 – change connector – 1345pm and zzz Round 1 – change connector 1346pm ) then the results are likely to appear at the end of your mail logs if you sort by subject.  Sorting by Date was not always a good idea as mail flow could occur between mail coming into the server and mail leaving the server.

 

Fixed: Office 2010 installation with MAK key gives Error: Can’t decode PIDKey – Invalid digits! ErrorCode: 0(0x0)

After doing an administrative installation of Office Professional Plus 2010 for a client, I was trying to test the installation of office on a desktop machine but kept getting “Error: Can’t decode PIDKey – Invalid digits! ErrorCode: 0(0x0).” as the error message. I confirmed that the key was correct by doing a manual installation of the software and using the same product key that was successful. I was unable to find any useful pages on the internet with this error message so ended up logging a call with Microsoft Product Support to troubleshoot the installation.

Our troubleshooting steps were to remove the updates folder completely and try an installation – this worked so we knew the problem was in the updates directory. Recopying back the files from the extracted service pack 1 dvd worked successfully so the problem was either service pack 2 or the setup.msp file. I copied back the sp2 files and again the software installed successfully (note that having a virtual test pc makes these tests very easy. No uninstalling of office required!)  Again the installation was successful. I then copied the setup.msp file back into the updates directory and the installation failed again. As the configurations that are made in the setup.msp can either be set in the config.xml or group policy it was ok to proceed without using the setup.msp.

Full details of the log files and more information can also be found at the Microsoft forums where I posted the initial request for help.

Trying to install System Center 2012

I have been battling this install for 2 days so far and not getting anywhere. There are a ton of sql prerequisites and the install error messages are very vague, like this message below:-IF
Surely it can’t be that hard to display the version of SQL server that is detected.

I’m currently following Harold Wong’s System Center install guide along with Matthew Peter’s guide and downloaded the Cumulative update 10 for SQL.
Attempting to install this patch on the server gives the error message below.
Screenshot - 1_3_2013 , 11_56_37 AM

The stupid thing about this is that neither 10.51.2500.0 or 10.1.2531.0 are valid sql version numbers. Select @@version returns the accurate 10.50.2500.0 which is sql 2008 r2 sp1 but it ignores the previous cumalative update that I’ve already installed.

So far my hopes for System Center have been severely dashed and buried in the ground. It’s a good job we don’t have windows in this office or I’d be tempted to set fire to the server and chuck them out of the window.

It’s been a long start to the new year.