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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Ok – this site made me laugh…..and gave me some inspiration of something fun to do while shopping around for LCD TV’s over the next few weeks 🙂


Occasionally you find a piece of software that makes life infinitely easier….this has been a very good week, I’ve found 2!

I’ve just installed GLPI as a trouble ticketing system to assist with management of workflow and to track recurring faults.  It’s an open-source, web based tool that uses apache, php and mysql to track issues and produce good quality reports.

It seems extremely stable in trials so far, but I will keep on using for the next few weeks before I roll out to users in our organisation for fault reporting.

Available from here:

The next find was a tool called OCS Inventory.  It’s another web/mysql app that is used for asset management.  The useful thing about this tool is that it uses an agent installed as a service on workstations that can be deployed using a login script.  This then updates the server on workstation boot with an abundance of information about the workstation, such as hardware info, serial number, installed software, installed printers, logged on user, etc

This has turned into a real time-saver for me! It’s available for download from

We have a user who runs a regular mail merge, and since migrating to Office 2007 has been experiencing problems merging using an Excel source into a Word document.  The merge fails to display characters following the decimal point.

The resolution is to highlight the merge field in the document template and press ALT+F9.  This will then display


This needs to be edited to include the number of characters before and after the decimal place using the # switch.  # then defines the number of characters.  It’s worth noting that if no characters exist then Word ignores the #.  To get around this, adding a subsequent .00 ensures that if there is a 0 value after the decimal place then it is included.  Our edited mergefield therefore looks like:

{MERGEFIELD “FIELD_NAME” # £##,###.00}

Managing a Windows environment (2 separate domains, one running a couple of 2003 Servers and Exchange, the other running SBS2003), there are times when I need to run a Windows client.  Not least because the management tools required for our PBX phone systems (an Avaya IP Office and an Alcatel OmniPCX), our CCTV system (RMC), our photographic archive (iBase), our EPOS system and Sage Line 50 require windows to run and Wine is insensitive to. There are various other windows specific tools that effectively mean that I need a functional copy of windows to work, rather than beng able to switch over to linux as my sole desktop machine.

At the moment I use a KVM switch to swap between the 2 desktops I use (one is XP the other Ubuntu Hardy Beta).  I spend about 99% of my day in Ubuntu, but can’t escape windows completely….this means 2 machines under the desk – which at best is not very environmentally sound, and at worst is downright inconvenient.

The solution? well a virtualised copy of Windows running on the Linux box is the obvious solution, but what about all the apps and data accumulated on the Windows machine over the last x years…..this may seem like a small concern, but it would take a LONG time to reinstall these apps – because of the custom nature of them they are heavy on configuration time, and while they could be installed, it would be a pain in the backside….

Along come the nice people at VMWare though with the Vmware Converter ( a tool that simply installs and then allows you to convert a physical install of an OS into a Virtual OS that can then be opened in VMware Workstation, Server or Player!

While it is designed to allow for the virtualisation of server environments this is the perfect solution for the likes of myself who still need to use Windows apps, that aren’t Wine compatible but REALLY want to ditch the spare Windows machine sat under the desk…

Working for a number of clients, it’s surprising how many people assume that an email sent is secure by default.  The number of people (including e-commerce providers) who feel comfortable sending (and requesting) credit card information via email is quite shocking…

It’s worth clarifying that sending an email is the digital equivalent of sending a postcard….anyone, on any number of the hops between the sender and the recipient, could read the contents of that email with relative ease, in the same way that if you sent a postcard, anyone en route between the sender and the recipient who handles that card could read the contents.  Worse yet, there are methods of spoofing (pretending to be) the recipient mail server – causing all emails that are destined for the recipient to be captured then forwarded on without the recipient even knowing that this has happened….

There are methods of securing email, however – one of these is worth noting as a free solution – GNUPG and it is worth considering if you need to send any information that you feel is sensitive.  GNUPG can be used for digital signing of emails (proving that the email is really from you) and also for the encryption of emails using a private key pair.

There are resources on the use of GNUPG on the site, and it can be used on a variety of platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac) etc.

This morning had a client that was having difficulties connecting to our SSL VPN using the OpenVPN client.  The error they were getting was:

Tue Apr 08 17:31:45 2008 ROUTE: route addition failed using CreateIpForwardEntry
: Access is denied.   [status=5 if_index=25]
Tue Apr 08 17:31:45 2008 Route addition via IPAPI failed [adaptive]
Tue Apr 08 17:31:45 2008 Route addition fallback to route.exe
The requested operation requires elevation.
Tue Apr 08 17:31:45 2008 ERROR: Windows route add command failed [adaptive]: sys
tem() returned error code 1

Looking at the error, it obviously points to a permissions excalation issue in Vista – the workaround:

Edit the config file of the SSL vpn (the .ovpn file) in C:Program FilesOpenVpnconfig and add the following lines:

#Force the use of route.exe
route-method exe

This will force OpenVPN to add the route using Route.exe

Then create a batch file to run the OpenVPN executable with the confif file specified::

“C:program filesOpenVPNbinopenVPN.exe” “C:program filesopenvpnconfigyourconfigname.ovpn”

Right click the batch file and run as administrator, and it should work!

Thanks go to Simon Butler for this (aka. Sembee on Experts-Exchange or  His resources on this helped me iron out the problems and get this working beautifully!

I’d struggled getting RPC/HTTPS working for ages using a self -signed certificate, and while it’s still recommended using a purchased certificate, I needed to get a particular user working extremely quickly – within about 4 hours.  Waiting for appropriate DNS to propogate to get the cert approved wasn’t an option so the existing self signed cert I used for OWA was the only option…


First things first, the certificate needed to be installed in the Root Certification Authorities store on the client machine.  Note that adding the cert to the default store WILL NOT work.

Then create split DNS by adding the corresponding external DNS zone to your internal DNS server, and a host record for the SBS server.  Remember, if your external web site is hosted externally you need to ensure that there is an A record that points to the web servers IP address.

Next, a couple of Registry keys needed to be added (I would have never have sussed this if it wasn’t for the resources on Amset!). A reg key needs to be created on the SBS server as follows:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
“NSPI Interface protocol sequences”=hex(7):6e,00,63,00,61,00,63,00,6e,00,5f,00, 68,00,74,00,74,00,70,00,3a,00,36,00,30,00,30,00,34,00,00,00,00,00

Copy and paste the above into notepad and save with a .reg extension, then run.  This will create a key that looks like:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesNTDSParameters Type REG_MULTI_SZ Name: NSPI Interface protocol sequences Value: ncacn_http:6004

Next on the Exchange server (this will be the same machine if using SBS) a different registry key needs to be created:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
“ValidPorts”=”server:100-5000; server:6001-6002; server:6004;server.domain.local:6001-6002; server.domain.local:6004;;;”

Save as a .reg file and run.

Then simply configure Outlook to use RPC over HTTPS and specify the FQDN of the server.  You can test the connection by holding CTRL and right-clicking the Outlook icon, then looking at the Connection Status in the taskbar.  If it is trying to resolve the external FQDN of the server then Outlook is configured correctly. Then just ensure that port 443 on your firewall is forwarded to the SBS server….

….sorted 🙂