Professional Geek
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  • The Case of the Vanishing E-mails

    I just wanted to relay a support call I’ve just dealt with as it really had me stumped. For a while I was concerned there was something really bad happening but now that I’ve gotten to the bottom of it I can breathe easy as it wasn’t actually all that serious

    Our client called to say that she was expecting an e-mail from their German contractor and it hadn’t arrived. He’d resent it a couple of times to confirm he’d got the email address, etc correct

    I logged onto the server and used Exchange message tracking to see if the e-mail had arrived

    The message did arrive at the server as expected

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    My next port of call was to logon to the PC and check Outlook, sometimes I’ve seen similar cases where a filter has been applied by mistake that means the user has “lost” the message. Unfortunately this drew a blank as well

    I used the advanced find feature to display all emails that had been delivered today and I even created a search folder to do the same thing but the message was nowhere to be seen

    I logged in via Outlook Web Access to see if the message was visible there as I’ve also seen cases where the message is corrupt and Outlook can’t display the message but OWA seems to do ok with it. Again no luck here

    So I checked to see if she hadn’t deleted the message by mistake. The message wasn’t in there but when I used the “Recover Deleted Items” feature in Outlook there is was! I thought this would be a simple matter of clicking the message and pressing restore……unfortunately not

    After I clicked restore I expected the message to reappear in the Inbox but after waiting a few minutes, nothing

    Confused I went back into the dialog in case I’d selected the wrong message. The message was still available for restore so I clicked it again. Once again the message failed to reappear so I went back in again

    One of the columns is “Deleted On”, I noticed that time was only a minute ago

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    I recovered the item again, noted the time, waited a minute and went back in and lo and behold the deleted on time had changed to the time just after I’d recovered the item

    Confused I turned to the server, this particular server uses McAfee GroupShield for checking inbound messages for malware so I trawled through the logs to see if it was picking this up as a dodgy message. I wasn’t holding my breath though as this isn’t how GroupShield works (the message is usually quarantined or a part of it replaced and the user alerted). As expected this was a dead end

    I was starting to get a little paranoid now so checked the PC over for malware and my initial checks didn’t turn anything up. I even used SysInternals Process Monitor to track what was going on during the recovery to see if there was an outside process doing something but again this didn’t show anything of use

    I fired up Outlook in safe mode but didn’t get very far as the recover items feature is an add-in itself!

    I decided to keep my attentions on Outlook and created a new profile for the user. This time I disabled Outlook cache mode and recovered the item again

    This time the message reappeared as expected!!

    As soon as this happened a huge light bulb came on somewhere in the back of my head 🙂

    There is a feature in Outlook that will ONLY work when cache mode is enabled

    Outlook Junk Filter

    I went into the options for this it hit me straight in the face!

    This is how the junk filter was configured on the PC

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    Can you see the problem?

    Only allow from safe lists and permanently delete suspect messages!!!

    I’m surprised she gets any email at all! But if she only receives messages from a group of people that she always emails then they would be on her safe list

    The junk filter checks for messages as soon as they arrive in the inbox, irrespective of whether that is because the message is an incoming e-mail or has just appeared there after being restored

    I have no idea why this has changed. It must have only have changed recently because as I said earlier the configuration would surely mean she would notice lots of emails going missing.

    Once I turned off the junk mail filter I was able to recover the message ok

    Ordinarily when a client doesn’t require the Outlook junk filter because they are getting their spam filtered elsewhere I use the Office ADM files and setup group policy to explicitly disable the Outlook filter (Office 2007 version here) so I need to go and set this up I think!

    Minor panic over!

  • Top Gear, Range Rover, Dual View Screen

    If you saw Top Gear at the weekend (and if you didn’t, why not?! It’s one of the best programs on TV!) you’ll have seen Jeremy Clarkson salivating over a Range Rover.

    It had a ton of gadgets but the one that jumped out at me was the “dual view” screen. Basically, the screen shows two different images. The driver gets the sat nav map and the passenger can watch a DVD

    I blogged about this sort of technology back in 2007! I actually said at the time it would have an application for in-car entertainment but I’d love to see this on a larger scale

    Imagine a cinema where one side of the room saw the regular movie and the other half of the room saw the movie with subtitles. The horrible mess which is involved in going to see a subtitled film would just disappear!

    I’ve mentioned subtitled cinema on this blog quite a bit as it’s something that irritates me quite a bit so any solution would be a good one!

    The Range Rover screen is only a 7-inch touch screen so not sure if it’ll make it to cinema sized anytime soon. Also movies are projected onto a screen as opposed to be it being like a massive flat screen! I still think there has to be a way for the same principle to be applied though

  • Technology Changing Lives

    My job means on a day to day basis I try to help businesses improve by the use of technology. It’s very satisfying when you see “the penny drop” for someone after explaining a concept. I saw this after a SharePoint demo at the back end of last week – I love listening to conversations afterwards as co-workers start bouncing ideas off each other

    Technology isn’t just for business though, smart use of technology in our everyday lives can have a huge impact. Whether it’s families in different countries staying in touch via Skype, or re-connecting with long lost relatives via social networking sites there is potential everywhere

    We’ve had some news recently that shows how technology can have a dramatic effect on someone’s entire life

    If you know me personally or have read this blog for any period of time you’ll know that my wife is deaf and has been since birth

    Six months ago she decided to take a look into her options and the hearing team at Selly Oak hospital started an investigation to see if it would be possible for her to get a Cochlear Implant

    Last week we had the “big decision appointment” and it was a yes. In addition to this they even had a date so on the 22nd December she’ll be having the operation! (less than ten days time!!) Bryony wrote a blog post about bringing the equipment home and the details of the appointment here

    The big switch on will be in January so we’ve got a massive start to the year ahead of us

    It’s not an exaggeration when I say this is HUGE. If all goes well Bryony will get as close to “normal” hearing as she will ever know, all down to a tiny computer that she’ll wear behind her ear

    It’s certainly a different way to spend your Christmas and New Year!

  • Writers Block

    Having a bit of writers block at the moment

    I’ve started three posts this week and abandoned them for one reason or another

    Hoping normal service will be resumed soon 🙁