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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: Windows Annoyances

Using Outlook 2010 with More than One Exchange Account Crashes Regularly

I quite liked the idea of a new feature in Outlook 2010, the ability to use more than one Exchange account at a time. People have been asking for this for years and it looked promising, in the past there was a work-around using virtualization but it was very resource intensive for most people’s machines. Since I ditched Office for Mac 2011 and went back to a Win7 VM on my Mac I thought I would give it a try as I hadn’t tried it out since the early beta builds of Office 2010 – sadly it seems things weren’t much better in the RTM build.

I have a corporate Exchange account, but my own personal email is also hosted on an Exchange server with Fasthosts – who as an aside I can’t really recommend anymore as they are still on Exchange 2003 and don’t seem to have any plans to upgrade the service to 2007, let alone Ex2010 althogh the service has been pretty reliable in the last 4 years I’ve used it.

However, I’ve found using Outlook in this dual-mailbox mode to be incredibly unreliable, it sets up fine – but within a couple of minutes Outlook locks up and becomes unresponsive – this seems to happen mainly when switching between inboxes – I’ve deleted and re-created profiles, .ost’s .pst’s – everything but I just can’t get it to work reliably.

I wonder if anyone out there has managed it – I’m using Windows 7 x64 with Office 2010 x86 (not the x64 version as per MS recommendations) they don’t seem to make much noise about this new feature – maybe this is why.

**Note: your corporate security policy may explicitly say you can’t do this – this is quite reasonable IMHO – I’ve done a lot of Exchange work in the past and whilst the Outlook security model is massively better these days a MAPI-savvy bit of Malware that you bring into Outlook via an external account could still potentially do bad things – remember the ILOVEYOU worm?**

If you want to try it out for yourself you need to totally quit Outlook (it won’t work if you have it open), go into Control panel and find the “mail” control panel applet

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Click E-Mail Accounts

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Click new, and follow the setup wizard, you’ll then have two Exchange accounts in your profile.

Fire up Outlook and once it’s finished “preparing your mailbox for first use” you’ll see two Exchange accounts with calendars, inbox etc. in the folder view of the UI.

However, in my experience that’s as good as it gets.. it locks up shortly after, shame as Office and in particular Outlook 2010 are pretty damned good otherwise – feel free to post your experiences..

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Cannot Access Shared Folder vmware-host Shared Folders My Desktop

 

I encountered this error when a Windows 7 VM running under Fusion logs on, VM tools is mapping a drive to your OS X home directory and results in the following Windows error message

Cannot Access Shared Folder \\vmware-host\Shared Folders\My Desktop

I hit this error after I used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my OS X installation from a SATA disk a new SSD drive and then decided to move my home directory back onto the SATA disk (I’m using one of these to mount 2 disks) to save space on the SSD (info on how to do that here), so the underlying file-system path had changed.

To fix this open the shared folders settings for your VM in Fusion (Virtual Machine/Settings/Sharing.

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  1. Un-check each item in the “Mirrored Folders” section.
  2. Log off the Windows 7 VM (you will get a prompt for this inside the VM)
  3. Log back on to the VM
  4. go back into Virtual Machine/Settings/Sharing and re-check each item
  5. Log off the Windows 7 VM (you will get a prompt for this inside the VM)
  6. Log back on to the VM and it should now be resolved and the mirrored folders show up as actual folders in Windows Explorer

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Hopefully that helps someone else out there who is scratching their head

OS X Expose Clone for Windows

 

One of the main things I miss as I switch between a Mac and PC is the lack of decent multi-window manager support in Windows – alt-tab and win-tab are great but I find them cumbersome.

A particular bug bear of mine is if you have to manage multiple terminal services sessions to servers/virtual machines, they are manageable when they are windowed. but if you have a low-screen resolution or small monitor its often more comfortable to use the TS sessions in full-screen mode, this brings with it some window confusion and the annoying pin/not pinned title bar to switch screens using the mouse.

OS X has an excellent feature called Expose which allows you to setup hot corners on the screen or hot-keys which, when activated zoom out to a thumbnail view of all your open application windows – and you can then click on the one you want.

it also has great support for multiple monitors, and stacks of monitors – if you’ve not used Expose/Spaces before check out Steve Jobs introducing it in this video (and take the Mac Fanboy whooping with a pinch of salt :))

 

Now – it’s not exactly the same but I’ve been using an application called Switcher to accomplish some of what OS X can do – below is a screenshot of all my open application windows when I touch a hot-corner

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Clicking on the desktop wallpaper in the background reverts the display to just the desktop (ala show desktop from the taskbar). the most important feature for me is the full-screen TS session – you can have as many of these open as you want and you can just browse and pick them by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail without having to hunt around win-tab’ing via the keyboard or taskbar.

it also has a large range of customisation options as shown below

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Easy.

Unfortunately it seems like Switcher isn’t actively developed any more 😦 but it is free – so open to better alternatives but it works for me with the occasional crash

You can download Switcher for free with instructions from http://insentient.net/Switcher/Overview.html

VMWare Workstation 6.5 Beta – Run Multiple Copies of Outlook/Exchange via Unity

 

I use a single laptop for my day-day use, it has all the stuff i need, I run Vista and Office 2007, for our corporate mail we use Exchange like everyone else and I use Outlook Cached Mode to work online/offline..

My own personal email is also an Exchange mailbox – provided by fasthosts (why – well, because..ok?) the problem with this is that I can’t have a single copy of Outlook connected to more than one Exchange server at the same time or run multiple instances of Outlook (I’ve tried all the hacks and Thinstall etc.), and to be honest even if I could it would probably violate the security policies of all the involved organisations as it would be quite simple for an Outlook-aware worm to try to propagate itself across multiple organisations or harvest confidential details.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that I often work on long-term customer projects and have to have a mailbox on their Exchange system as well… which leads to multiple diary sync nightmare, maybe I’ll blog about that some other time).

So at present I have 4 Exchange mailboxes that I need to keep track of, auto-forwarding mail between them is a no-no, I used to be an Exchange admin and I’ve lost many bank holidays due to corporate->Hotmail NDR mail loops!

So, up until now I’ve had to run one full Outlook client and multiple OWA clients in a browser, which is ok as long as I’m connected to the Internet, but no good if I’m on a train unless I want to close and restart Outlook with multiple profiles, which is a pain especially when you are collaborating on a project between multiple organisations. To be honest as good as OWA 2003 is it’s no substitute for a full outlook client. (still waiting for Fasthosts to go to Exchange 2007, oh and enable EAS!).

So, anyway a solution – VMWare Unity, this is a feature like Parallels for the Mac which lets you “float” an application window out of a guest VM to the host desktop meaning you can use the applications without working within a single VM’d desktop window.

VMWare Fusion also has the same feature, but Workstation 6.5 is the 1st time its been available on the PC platform.

To use Unity you need to have upgraded the virtual machine to 6.5 “hardware” by right clicking on the VM in the sidebar pane (below) and install the latest VM Tools – it also only seems to support XP at present, or at least it didn’t work on the Server 2003 VM I had.

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Boot the VM… and install the latest VM tools.

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VM Workstation Screen – note VM is set to “Unity mode”

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My Vista desktop (yes, I have the start bar at the right hand side – widescreen laptop!) with the popup menu for the VM, showing all the start menu for applications installed within in it.

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the following screen shot is Calculator running from inside the XP VM but in a single window on the Vista desktop – note the red border and the image icon, denoting that its presented via Unity.

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It even shows up on the start bar with the correct icon; although this doesn’t seem to work until its been run a couple of times; I assume it needs to cache an icon or something.

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it also seems to respect the window snapshots you get whilst Win-Tab between applications, even for pop-up windows

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Technically I can use this to run n x Windows XP/Outlook 2003 VM’s presenting Outlook through to my Vista desktop and comply with all organisations security policies, as each VM and its respective copy of Outlook runs in isolation from each other with the relevant company-specific AV client (or at worst, the same level as if I were using a machine connected to a public network in that they all share a vm network) – I don’t enable shared folders between the VMs.

It’s still a beta feature at the moment, and there seem to be a few bugs particularly when resizing windows sometimes it doesn’t work properly and double clicking to expand to full screen overlays the start-bar on my vista machine.

And it does seem to get confused sometimes and not allow keyboard input, so you have to flick back to non-unity mode and then back to continue, and sometimes a reboot of the guest VM but it is an early build so I would guess this will be resolved.

As an added bonus VM Workstation seems to allow the Vista host OS to go into sleep mode even whilst VMs are running, this is something I’ve not had much luck with in the past – it would generally refuse to sleep when I closed the lid (but thats not a scientific comparison… it may have just been bad luck!)

So, the pay-off – 2 copies of Outlook (2003 and 2007) seemingly running on the same desktop, alt-tab works ok and you have access to all the functionality of both without having to switch between or run multiple OWA sessions and from a security perspective it’s not really any different from having 2 physical PCs in front of you (slight memory overhead, but my laptop has 4Gb RAM, so not a huge issue).

Opening attachments is obviously going to be a bit of an issue, as you’ll technically need an individually licenced instance of Office 2003 in each VM as they can’t (yet) exchange data between them… and that would compromise the security principal.

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How to stop Terminal Services Clients Beeping!

 

This always annoys me, when I connect my laptop via the MSTSC terminal services client it always beeps at logon; if it did this via the onboard sound card on my laptp that would be fine as typically it’s always muted when I’m in the office/on a client site as it’s annoying.

However it seems to use the system board loud default beep – and ignores the mute setting on my laptop and this always seems to affect VMWare workstation Win2003 VM’s at logon too – which is doubly annoying as I use them a lot.

so, for reference this kills it off permanently – I can’t really think of any situations where I’d need it to beep – especially not at a volume that totally ignores my chosen settings!

C:Windowssystem32>sc config beep start= disabled
[SC] ChangeServiceConfig SUCCESS

Some other options posted here