Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Restore iPhone with error 13 or 1611 in iTunes

I had a user who accidentally unplugged their iPhone 3G while it was in the middle of updating. It appeared to render the phone useless, and trying to restore it didn't work. I even tried using recovery mode but that didn't help either. iTunes would get to a point where it would say "Preparing iPhone for Restore", then fail with error 13 or error 1611. Needless to say I called Apple iPhone support and they said it was a hardware issue that required me to send it in. However, while I was waiting for the Apple support person to finish writing up my case, I found the answer to fix it without the need to pay or send it away. It's called DFU mode, which is a step beyond Recovery mode. It boots the phone, but doesn't allow the OS to load, which then is supposed to allow you to downgrade, upgrade, or restore the phone. Thanks iHackintosh.com!

To enter DFU mode:
1. Connect your iPhone to your computer
2 . Turn iPhone off. You may have to hold the power and home buttons down together to force the phone off
3. Once the phone is off, hold the power and home buttons together for 10 seconds exactly
4. After 10 seconds, release the power button but keep holding home until the computer recognizes that a USB device was plugged in
5. iTunes should detect your iPhone correctly, and also allow you to restore to the factory default settings

Note that the screen should be black, even though the phone is on and recognized by the computer. If the Restore Logo is present on the phone's screen (it's the iTunes logo, CD with musical notes, and the picture of the cord), you are in Recovery Mode. If this is the case, shut the phone off and start over at step #3.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weird iPhone issue when trying to sync with Exchange

Ok, so first off I solved the issue I was seeing, but I have to post it anyway because I spent much too long figuring it out. Secondly, if you're having an error about encryption and you recently upgraded to the iPhone 3.1 OS, this isn't that problem. However, you can find the Apple discussion about that issue at:

The problem I had may be a problem with the iPhone, or it might be an Exchange issue. I honestly don't know, which is another reason I decided to post this. Ok, here goes

I received a new iPhone 3G a few days ago. I already support about a dozen or so iPhone users using Exchange email and have had no complaints. However, I finally ran into something that wasn't normal. We have a single Exchange 2003 server hosting email for a few different domain names. For this to make sense, lets say those domains are email1.com and email2.com. The server itself is in the DNS as exchange.email1.com, which is manually set in the ActiveSync configuration when it asks for the server name. I have successfully setup email for users in both email1.com and email2.com with no problems. Now is where the weirdness begins...

We have a proprietary application that requires users to have no more than 8 characters in their username, but we standardize on using the entire last name in the email address. For an example, let's say we have two employees named John and Tom Anderson. John works the email1.com company and Tom works for the email2.com company. This means their usernames would be janderso and tanderso, but their default email addresses would be janderson@email1.com and tanderson@email2.com. The problem I have found is that this is fine for janderson@email1.com and ActiveSync on the iPhone works correctly. However, tanderson@email2.com has no such luck and the account will verify but will not sync. This is true with SSL turned on or off. On occassion it will work, but eventually it will fail and anything synchronized to the phone will mysteriously disappear and then the phone begins giving errors connecting.

Now what I found will fix this problem is matching the username to the email address. In my case, I was able to change the logon for this particular user since they didn't need access to the proprietary application. Changing the username from tanderso to tanderson, then leaving the email as tanderson@email2.com and reconfiguring ActiveSync on the iPhone worked. This was not required for users with an email address of user@domain1.com who are able to have differing usernames and email addresses without any issue.

I first ran into this with an iPhone with a 3.1 OS installed, but have since been able to test it on the 3.0.1 OS and it failed there as well. Like I said, this may be a problem with the iPhone software or my Exchange server, but since I don't know which it is hopefully if it is an iPhone problem this will save you the time of trying to figure out what is going on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Select preferred DNS or WINS network interface in Windows Server

I recently installed a second NIC card in one of the Windows 2003 servers that I manage. After installation everything appeared to be working correctly, but I noticed that the server was registering the new NIC's IP address in the DNS and WINS consoles. DNS selects to use all available interfaces by default, which I was aware of, so I right-clicked on the server within the DNS console, went to Properties, then removed the new NIC's IP address and selected "Only the following IP addresses" on the Interfaces tab. However, that didn't fix the WINS problem, and I couldn't find any settings within the WINS console for determining which interface should be the primary. After thinking about it for a little while I finally realized what was happening. When you install new NIC cards, they're added to the network services priority list in the order of installation. Since I installed this NIC after the primary NIC, it was made to be the primary by the default system action. All I had to do was change the network services priority list.

1. Open Control Panel->Network Connections
2. Go to Advanced->Advanced Settings...
3. Here you'll find all your connection objects in the Connections section, listed in the priority they're used in. Rearrange them to be in the order you want, with the highest priority connection at the top of the window
4. Click OK

This will make the highest priority connection you set be the first place network services look when trying to use a connection. Sure enough, my newly installed NIC had top priority, so moving it down the list took care of the issue. Connectivity and everything else seemed to be working fine, but it is best to make sure you have the priorities set correctly so the system isn't wasting time trying to use other connections.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DVD player software for FREE on your Windows machine

Firstly, this post is meant for Windows users, however the software mentioned is open-source and runs on OS X and Linux as well. One thing I run into occassionally is someone wondering why they can't watch DVDs on their laptop. I know Windows machines come with Windows Media Player, but that never really has seemed to do a very good job of working with DVDs or movie files. I've used Powerlink's CyberDVD before and it performed well, but if it didn't come installed from the factory you likely won't want to pay for it. There are others too, but typically they're installed with your computer and if you ever reformat or want to upgrade, they'll try to hit you with fees. Instead, let me introduce you to VLC Media Player.

VLC is an open-source option, with versions for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Being open-source, it is also free for you to download and use. In my testing I've found it to work well with actual DVDs that were having problems playing in Windows Media Player. There is an entire list of other features as well, but I've really only used it to solve the problems I've seen with playing DVDs. So far so good, and since it's free it's really hard to beat it. If you're running into issues with media playback on your machine, give it a try and let me know about your experience. Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Using Spell Check in Microsoft Word or Outlook 2007

This may be old news to a lot of people, but I was asked by a user today where she could find the spell check in Word and Outlook 2007. She was just recently upgraded, and with the GUI change didn't know where it had went. If anyone else is looking for the spell checking service in Word or Outlook 2007, here's where you can find it. The screenshots look small in the blog, but you can click on them for a better view.

Word 2007
Go to the Review tab at the top, then on the left you will see "Spelling & Grammar"

Outlook 2007
In a new/reply message, it should be on the far right in the menu bar, listed as "Spelling & Grammar"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Cannot read from the source file or disk" error when deleting

I've run into the "Cannot read from the source file or disk" problem more than once, and every time it had has to do with trying to delete a file originally created by a Mac from a Windows-based file server. I used to just leave the file in place, but I finally couldn't take it anymore and found a solution: http://blog.dotsmart.net/2008/06/12/solved-cannot-read-from-the-source-file-or-disk/. It appears that the issue is caused by the files ending in a hidden period, which NTFS systems can not read. However, Windows is able to delete it, but it must be done from the command line and requires you to know a special set of characters ("\\?\") to use as a prefix to the file path.

For an example, let's say I get this error on a file with a path C:\myfile.txt. In order to delete myfile.txt, I would have to open a command prompt. From there I would use the command

del "\\?\C:\myfile.txt"

This would remove the problematic file from the system. You can also use this with folders

rmdir /s "\\?\C:\myfolder"

There the rmdir /s will recursively remove all files/folders within the specified folder, and then delete the folder itself. Without using the /s switch, you would have to manually remove all files and folders within the folder you're trying to delete first.