Friday, September 24, 2010

Word Has Command-Line Switches

Until today, I had no idea that there were command-line switches (options) that you can use when starting Word.

I have both Office 2003 and Office 2007 installed on my PC. All of the doc files were opening automatically in Word 2003, but I wanted them to open in Word 2007 by default. I tried changing the file association, but it wouldn't take.

My final solution was to run winword.exe /r from the Office12 folder. This re-registered the registry keys for Word 2007.

If you are curious about other Word switches check them out here:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blackberry Activation Error with Transport Rules

A few months ago I spent an entire afternoon trying to figure out why a BlackBerry would not activate with a BES server. Activation failed when the PIN was entered and sent back by the BlackBerry.

As I searched I found a few possible causes:
  • forwarding on the user mailbox
  • firewall blocking BES access to blackberry servers on the Internet
None of these applied. Further investigation in the SERVER_MAGT log found this:
[40239] (05/12 01:29:44.514):{0x117C} {} Still handled by desktop
[30160] (05/12 01:29:44.514):{0x117C} {} GetDeviceId() did not return a PIN, PIN currently is not set for this user.
[40371] (05/12 01:29:44.514):{0x117C} {} UserControl::HandleDatabaseChange - CalSyncState is empty
[40442] (05/12 01:29:44.514):{0x117C} User settings:,, service=, device=, calendar=0, MDS=1, userOTAFM=0, incradle=0, SMIME=0, sentItems=1, dir=Userx, server=Exchange1
As you can see, it is complaining about being still handled by Blackberry Desktop. On further investigation, this really just means that the message coming back from the Blackberry for the activation has been modified. So, the BES server refuses to touch it.

It turned out that there was an Exchange transport rule that was being used for add a CC for all messages delivered to this user. It was configured as an alternative to forwarding in the user mailbox, but had the same effect. After disabling the transport rule activation completed properly.

Disaster Recovery Is Not Just a Technology Issue

A basic disaster recovery plan for small business (and some larger ones) consists basically of redundancy in the server (RAID, redundant power) and a nightly backup. The theory is that server redundancy protects you most of the time and if that happens to fail, then you get your data from backup. We recently had a server failure just like that but with a twist.

A RAID 5 array failed in a server and took out information that was business critical. The failure occured on an Thursday evening. Reviewing the backup log, the backup Thursday night appeared to complete successfully, but in fact it hadn't. The RAID 5 array failed partway through the backup. This leaves us restoring to Wednesday nights backup. All of Thursday's data changes were lost.

Here is where the twist comes in. This organization scans in historical documents and then shreds them afterwards. After the document has been shredded there is no backup copy except on the computer system. This is one of the databases that was lost.

Because the document is shredded before a backup is taken, there is small window where loss of data is an issue due to only a single failure. To protect that data, shredding needs to be delayed at least one day to ensure there is a good backup. And depending on how paranoid you are, maybe two.

In this case, no documents were processed in the lost window, but it could easily have happened.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Virus and Malware Removal

There are many web sites out there devoted to removing viruses and malware from your computer. All of them describe long and difficult processes required to identify and remove unwanted software. What makes the removal difficult is that many viruses and malware hide in memory. As you remove infected files from disk, the program in memory adds itself back to another location.

By far the fastest and easiest way to remove viruses and malware is to remove the hard drive and scan it in a different computer. By doing this, you ensure that the virus or malware is not running in memory when the scan is performed. As a best practice you should scan with multiple tools to be sure you catch everything.

I do this by using external USB enclosures for hard drives. I have three separate enclosures for SATA 3.5 inch, PATA 3.5 inch, and PATA 2.5 inch drives. This allows me to externally mount both desktop and laptop drives.

As an alternative, you can boot up by using something like the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows and scan from there. It gets you to the same place, but you are limited to the tools included on that CD instead of your preferred antivirus tools.