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  • Adding Roles and Features To an Offline Virtual Machine

    A few days ago I restarted a virtual machine and was presented with the message.

    We couldn’t complete the updates

    Undoing changes

    Don’t turn off your computer 

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    Very helpful.

    The server just sat there for ages, apparently doing nothing.

    After a brief search I came across a post on the Microsoft forums that indicated an update was giving some problems (KB2920189)

    One of the suggested actions was to disable secure boot, start the virtual machine, allow the update to install and then re-enable secure boot.

    It’s a Windows 2012 R2 Gen2 virtual machine so it had that option.

    I turned it off but this didn’t doing anything.

    A further post on the forum pointed to a known issue with that update. The fix for that is to install the BitLocker features as the update is looking it. You don’t need to encrypt any drives, just have the feature installed. My specific problem wasn’t exactly described in that article but it wouldn’t hurt to add the feature and find out.

    But how to do that if the server won’t even boot?

    Well as the title probably already suggests you can do this with a virtual machine when it’s offline.

    Shut the virtual machine down

    Start server manager and select the “Add roles and features” option

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    Click through the first couple of pages on the wizard until you get the server selection page.

    From here you need the “Select a virtual hard” option at the top of the screen

    Then choose the virtual hard disk that has your operating system at the bottom of the screen.

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    From here it’s exactly the same as method to add a role or feature as normal.

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    After that i started the machine, the update installed and all was good.

  • Sync Text Messages To Your Mailbox

    File this under “I didn’t know it could do that”

    Using your smartphone to connect to your work email is a pretty standard thing nowadays.

    They just about all support ActiveSync so your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry will all do email, calendars and contacts to an Exchange server without much fuss.

    However, the bit makes all this work, i.e ActiveSync, has some features that aren’t implemented on all devices. Some features will also be reliant on the version of Exchange server the mailbox is on.

    One of those is the ability to have your phone sync your text messages with your mailbox.

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    I spotted the option for this a little while back and initially didn’t see the point of it but I thought I’d turn it on and see how it worked out.

    I’ve been using it for a few months now and there are two main things I’ve found useful

    Sending text messages directly from Outlook

    When a text message comes into your phone it’s copied to your mailbox.

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    This means that if your phone is your pocket/bag or on silent you can read it on your PC without having to get the phone out. More importantly you can reply from Outlook too. Hit reply, type your message and when you press send the message is sync’d back to your phone where it sends the messages on your behalf.

    Yes that’s the “magic”. Your phone is still sending the message.

    You even get little smiley icons to use and it’ll tell you how many text messages will be needed.

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    It’s something I found useful as I can type much quicker on my keyboard than on my touch screen!

    I also find it less disruptive when I’m at work to not have to go to my mobile to view and reply to any messages.

    Having a deaf wife does mean I send a lot of text messages so this is one of the things I’ve particularly found useful.

    Backing up your messages

    Depends on how much importance you place on your SMS I guess but because a copy is added to your mailbox if your phone dies, falls in a toilet or is crushed/smashed/whatever then your text messages are easily retrievable.

    You can file them exactly the same way as you would any other email.

    I’ve got an Outlook quick step I use to drop any want to keep into a “text messages” folder once I’ve read them.

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    As mentioned above not all clients support all features so most notably this doesn’t work on iPhone.

    Also as already mentioned it’s reliant on Exchange server so if you’re using Google Apps/Gmail, POP or IMAP for email this specific method isn’t applicable.

    There a good list of features and what is and isn’t supported on this Wikipedia article.

    Can you think of any other uses for this?

    it’s also probably worth knowing about for the inevitable support call where someone has setup their own phone and want to know when their text messages have turned into emails. 

  • Problems With Sonicwall and Multiple PPPoE Connections

    Now there’s an attention grabbing headline if ever I saw one!

    Just a quick reminder post in case I come across this again or it helps anyone else.

    We did some work for a client recently to replace their firewall with a shiny new Sonicwall NSA 2600.

    In the days following the replacement we were getting reports of connectivity problems.

    Inbound connections to the remote desktop server were dropping out and a web application they use was suffering from time outs.

    Even pings out to various servers on the internet were giving us results that showed something wasn’t quite right.

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    The only thing that had changed was the firewall so we put the old one back in and everything returned to normal.

    This meant I spent a few hours going through each setting. We’d set the new firewall up exactly the same as the old one but there was clearly buy ativan online reviews something different between the two.

    We initially narrowed it down to a problem with the PPPoE connections.

    This particular setup had three WAN connections, two of which were PPPoE. The other connection didn’t have any problem at all. 

    After liaising with Sonicwall support we got to the bottom of it.

    There is a setting in the WAN connection that needs to be enabled that wasn’t available with the previous firewall.

    “Allow duplicate MAC addresses”

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    There is ONE article on the Sonicwall knowledgebase that mentions this setting.

    The scenario discussed in the article doesn’t fit our setup though.

    We weren’t using load balancing, both connections had a different default gateway and traffic was flowing across both connections, just not very well.

    However, changing the setting worked. Turning it back off caused the issue to reoccur.

    It’s been fine now for almost a month,