Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Renewing an Exchange 2010 Certificate from Go Daddy

When you use the Exchange Management Console for Exchange Server 2010 to generate a certificate renewal request, the format used is not compatible with Go Daddy. The EMC provides some sort of binary request. Go Daddy expects a standard text-based renewal request.

You can use this process instead:
  1. Perform the certificate renewal on the Go Daddy web site and select the option to  reuse the existing CSR. If you do this then you do not need the renewal request from Exchange.
  2. Download the approved certificate in zip format and extact it to obtain the .crt file.
  3. Use IIS Manager (at the server node) to complete a certificate request. Provide the .crt file and a friendly name that you recognize. Note that .crt files are not displayed by default when browsing for the file.
  4. Use the Exchange Management Console to assign services to your renewed certificate.
And my best recommendation for avoiding this process is using multi-year certificates. And remember to use the discount codes in the Go Daddy spam messages. Typically you can get about 20% off.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cheap US Roaming for Canadians

I do occasional travel to the US for work and vacations. My biggest annoyance when traveling is the cost of cell phone roaming. It adds up to a ton of money for voice, text, or data (especially data).

I had been considering getting a T-Mobile prepaid account and a separate phone to use just for travelling. They have prepaid service for $3/day. Which is pretty good with unlimited data, voice, and text.

However, I recently learned about a new option that is based in Canada and it seems to work really well. Roam Mobility resells T-Mobile services for use when you are roaming.

Roam Mobility has plans with unlimited voice, unlimited text, and 100MB of data for $4 per day. This is a bit more that T-Mobile, but Roam Mobility has a couple of advantages:
  • You can keep your number for up to a year without using it. T-Mobile expires the prepaid cards after 3 months.
  • Voice to Canada is included. I have not verified, but I believe that outbound T-Mobile to Canada would be long distance.
  • I like the idea of someone specializing in the task we're trying to accomplish. They provide tech support.
You need an unlocked cell phone
To use Roam Mobility, you need a cell phone that is unlocked. Most are locked by the vendor (your friendly telco) because they don't want you to switch networks. There are a bunch of places online that will provide a code to unlock your cell phone for $10-15. If you are more adventurous, there are a lot of hits on Google about how to unlock your particular model of phone for free.

I haven't played much with unlocking phones, but my wife won an HTC Desire from Telus somehow that we've never used with phone service. It has been our "not-a-phone" with Wifi for the last couple of years. So, armed with Google, optimism, and a phone I didn't really care about, I set off and unlocked the phone. I did it for fun. Everyone else should probably just kick out the $10 and be done with it.

To test the unlocked phone, we took a SIM card from an MTS Blackberry and put it in the phone. The phone came up and connected to the MTS network. Sweet.

You need to get a SIM card
Next up was purchasing the SIM card from Roam Mobility. In Winnipeg, the only vendor at this time is London Drugs in St. Vital Mall. The first day we went, they were sold out but let us know there would be more in a couple of days.

London Drugs sold the SIM card, but didn't provide any service to speak of (like explaining that additional setup may be required). So, I'd be happy to recommend to anyone that they purchase online instead of from a local retailer.

After purchasing the SIM card for $20, we inserted it into the phone, but there was no way to tell if it was working because we were not anywhere near the T-Mobile network.

You need to do additional configuration of your phone for data
My wife was the first to travel with the phone and was surprised that, when she arrived in the US, the voice and text functionality was working, but not the data. We were both pretty confused by this, but like the older and wiser technical geek that I am, I recommended calling Roam Mobility tech support (611 from your phone, or 1-888-762-6487) instead of me trying to figure it out. The younger version of me would have spent a week researching it instead.

It turns out that in order to connect to data, you need to perform some additional configuration steps:
  1. Enable data roaming
  2. Add the APN (Access Point Name) for Roam Mobility ("roam")
After performing these steps with tech support the data on the phone was good to go.

Some info about this configuration:

You will save a ton of money
Standard rates from Rogers are: $1.45/min, $.75/text, and $8 per 50MB of data in 24 hours. You can get Travel Packs that lessen the pain, but they are still expensive. For example, the cheapest data plan that can be used for up to 1 month is $80 for 50 minutes, 50 outbound texts, and 50MB of data. Some people would use that in a day.

Traveling to the US for 5 days cost us $20 for the SIM card and $20 for unlimited voice, unlimited texts, and 500 MB of data. The only hassle is unlocking the phone. In the future, it will be just the $4/day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exchange 2013 Management Pack - RELEASED!

Microsoft is on a roll this week. Not only do we now have the role requirements calculator for Exchange 2013, but now we have the management pack for Exchange 2013. For many larger organizations that use System Center Operations Manager this was a critical components before considering the deployment of Exchange 2013.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Exchange 2013 Hybrid Configuration Wizard Fails

Several weeks ago I was working on a project where we were implement a hybrid environment with Office 365 by using Exchange 2013 as the hybrid servers for an existing Exchange 2010 environment. Adding Exchange 2013 went pretty smoothly overall and I thought the hybrid wizard would be the easy part.

When we ran the hybrid configuration wizard and selected the certificate, we got the following error:

The length of the property is too long
What a delightfully vague response. Well, after several days working with Office 365 tech support, the client was able to identify that the subject in the certificate was too long. The certificate was perfectly valid, but the hybrid configuration wizard was unable to handle the subject length.

The client had obtained an extended validation certificate that included a lot of additional information in the subject such as a long organization ID. After replacing the extended validation certificate with a standard certificate it completed without any problems.

Exchange 2013 Role Requirements Calculator - RELEASED!

At long last, the Exchange 2013 Role Requirements Calculator has been released. Any Exchange 2013 deployments up to this point have been based on educated guesses. Now we have official guidance from Microsoft.