Master & Cmd-R

4 reasons why I’ve left Google for Microsoft

4. No more Google Reader

No more Google Reader

While not an email related function, Google Reader was my go-to for news feeds and an awesome RSS reader. The day they announced it was closing, I started looking around for a replacement (Feedly is awesome, by the way). Once Google was no longer my one-stop shop, it was only a matter of time before I started looking at

3. New Clean Interface

Even with the latest upgrades to their interface, Gmail still feels cluttered compared to what you see when you log in to Outlook:

Gmail clutter


Outlook options


Outlook new message

Controls are hidden until you need them, and then appear in a clear, smooth and logical interface.

2. Email Aliases

It’s the year 2013, and Google still doesn’t offer email aliases for your accounts – instead, they suggest you open a new account and set it to forward to your existing email address.

Gmail aliases

Outlook, on the other hand, allows you to create and delete email aliases at will, and it’s a simple as typing it in:

Outlook Alias

And, the number one reason why I’ve left Gmail behind forever is…

1. Exchange Active Sync

Earlier this year, Google decided to drop its support for Exchange Active Sync connections, meaning that email accounts could only connect through Exchange’s uglier cousins, POP and IMAP. This was the death blow for me, as I expect to be able to have full synchronization of all my email, contacts and calendars, including whether or not it’s been read or replied to. Even before this, you couldn’t set up an Exchange account in Outlook, but had to use Google Sync, which was fraught with problems, and was not a good experience to begin with. gives the same experience regardless of if you’re using webmail, Outlook, or a smartphone – it’s clean, full featured, and a joy to use. Maybe I’m just becoming a Microsofty, but there you have it – Gmail, you’re dead to me!

Recover multiple (thousands) of items in OWA 2007

When a user deletes emails in their Outlook or Web client, these items typically go into their Deleted Items folder – however, if the user hard deletes (Shift-Delete) these items, or empties their trash, these emails can still be recovered out of the Dumpster. The Dumpster is basically a retention setting in Exchange that keeps deleted emails for a certain number of days.

This folder is usually accessed by going into the user’s webmail, clicking on Options, and then clicking on Deleted Items. You can select the items you need to recover, and then click on the Recover to Deleted Items Folder.

Now, this is fall fine and dandy, but what do you do when you need to recover thousands of emails that a user has deleted (usually hastily covering their tracks as they are escorted out of the building by burly security guards)? You are only able to select 50 items at a time in the Recover Deleted Items window – are you going to sit there and select items 1 page at a time for the rest of your life? Not you!

The easiest way to recover thousands of emails out of the Dumpster is to use the Recover Deleted Items option in Outlook – however, this option is not (usually) turned on by default. Here’s how you turn this little magical option on:

    • On the client computer used to perform the deleted items recovery operation, click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
    • Locate, and then click the following registry subkey:

(If you’re on a 64 bit OS, the path is under the Wow6432Node key:

      • You might need to add the Options subkey – I didn’t have it on my machine
      • On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
      • Type DumpsterAlwaysOn, and then press ENTER.
      • Double-click DumpsterAlwaysOn.
      • Type 1 in the Value data area, click Decimal in the Base area, and then click OK.
      • Close Registry Editor.
      • Restart Outlook.

From <>

Note that depending on what version of Windows and Outlook you are using, this key might be in one of the following locations:

    • 32-bit Outlook on a 32-bit version of Windows:


    • 32-bit Outlook on a 64-bit version of Windows:


    • 64-bit Outlook on a 64-bit version of Windows:


      Now close and re-open Outlook – click on Folder then Recover Deleted Items:

      You should now see all your deleted items showing up (Dumpster for the win!)

      Click the little folder tree icon (Select All):

      Then click the envelope icon (Recover Selected Items):

      Sit back and watch the magic:

      You can now log back into OWA and verify that your dumpster is now empty, and all those files will be sitting in your Deleted Items folder:

      Who’s your daddy now?

      You are DumpsterAlwaysOn… you are!

Lync 2013 Client: Switching devices during a call

The Lync 2013 client has introduced a number of changes from the 2010 client, and one of the biggest (and hardest to get used to) is the number of menus and options that are accessed by hovering, instead of having a button to click on.

One feature that we’ve really missed is the ability to switch between your phone handset and your headset mid-call. There used to be a button that you could click on in your chat window that would allow you to switch between devices on the fly – this was incredibly useful, especially if you’ve just come flying over to your desk and picked up the phone because your workstation was locked and you can’t get it through the soft client. That button has disappeared in Lync 2013, and we’ve been sorely missing it!

Well, fear not… that option is still there, it’s just hidden in a hover menu now – here’s how you access it:

Hover over this button:


This opens the menu that allows you to hold or transfer your call, as well as the dial pad and devices.

Click on Devices:



And now you can transfer between your handset and your headset on the fly!


You can also adjust your volume here, which is awesome, because this is separate from your headset’s volume, so you can get your volume louder, even if your headset is turned all the way up.

Lync calls not routing properly

One of the biggest issues we’ve had in our new Lync 2013 installation is that calls will not route to a user when their presence shows them as in a meeting – this was an obvious frustration, because it means that the more often than not, the person whom you are in a meeting with can’t get through to you at all!

As a workaround, you had to set your presence to “Available” if you were expecting a phone call for a meeting – by no means a true, or long term solution.

It turns out that this is not a bug, but a configuration issue – According to this TechNet article the Parallel call routing method adheres to a user’s status, and will not send calls to them if they are in a meeting. Switching the call routing method to Attendant changes that behavior and allows calls to route through regardless of their presence. In fact, the only status that Attendant will not route calls through on is “Do Not Disturb”.

Here’s how you change this in the Lync Control Panel:

Click on Response Groups, then Group:

Response Group

Select the Group that you want to modify and change the routing method to Attendant:

Click Commit to save your changes.

Just to make sure your changes take effect immediately, restart your Response Group Service on your Front End server.

Problem Solved!

XCloner: Using Cron to automate your backups

XCloner has quickly become my backup plugin of choice for Joomla websites, and it works very well for WordPress as well – It’s saved my but more than once, and it’s great for doing site migrations (hence the word “Cloner”). Here’s the procedure for installing and configuring it, with an added dose of Cron loving at the end:

Download and Install:

  • Click on the logo to go to their downloads page:


  • Download the latest version for either WordPress or Joomla:


  • Log into your Joomla or WordPress control panel and install the plugin:


  • Once you have it installed, head over to Components to configure it:


  • Your first task is to change the password from the default:


  • Click Settings:


  • Click on Authentication, then change the password to something else (make sure you document what the password is)


  • Click Save:


  • Now, if you go back to the main screen, all the settings are green (Authentication stays red until you change the default password):

Go ahead and click on Generate Backup: I normally just leave the default options in place (backup databases, backup files, automatically generate a name)

  • Click Continue to start your backup running:


  • It takes a few minutes to run the magic:


  • Once the backup completes it’ll give you the details of what it’s done, and the backup file name: Click Close


  • If you go back to the main screen, and click on View Backups you can download the backup from there, or restore from it, or check when your last backup was done. You can also use the backup file to migrate a site from one host to the other – it’s a complete clone.


Automate your backups with Cron

  • You can also set this up as a Cron job for automated backup magic – go to Configuration – Cron


  • The only setting I found I needed to change was to have it Delete Old Backups:

For everything else, just leave all the defaults and click Save.

  • Go back to the Cron Command Setup and grab this script:

Copy the script, and add on an email command at the end so you get notified when the job is complete: | mail -s “Website Backup Task”

And add it to the Cron jobs in your CPanel – If you have MySQL maintenance tasks set up, then you might want to consider setting it to run on a different day or time, so that your webhost doesn’t get too hammered for the entire 2.5 minutes that it takes to run these tasks. It’s probably not an issue, but if you have multiple websites hosted on your account, the host can sometimes get a bit twitchy if there’s too much happening at once, and shut you down.
Sit back and enjoy the magic!

LogMeIn Host Preference Packages

We’ve been having an issue with LogMeIn crashing when we connect to a remote computer – LogMeIn gave me an option to try, and then showed me a neat trick to apply it to all our servers at once. Rather than going to the preferences for each server individually, you can create a Host Preference Package and apply it globally, or to individual groups or computers.


Here’s how you create or edit the preference packages

Open LogMeIn Central, and click on Host Preferences:


Click on Add Package, or select one of the existing packages to edit it.


If you’re creating a new preference package, give it a name here:


From here on, the options will be the same if you are creating a new profile, or editing an existing one.

Click on the Category drop-down box:


There are three general settings I apply, and they’re under Network, Log Settings and Remote Control.


Under Network, I set the auto-update option so that the client stays up-to-date automatically:


Under Log Settings, I turn on debug-level logging: (This helps LogMeIn support immensely when it comes to troubleshooting)


Under Remote Control, I’m unchecking the option to disable wallpaper (this was the fix for BG Info crashing that I blogged about earlier):


Make sure you click Save at the bottom of each screen, and then when you’re done editing everything, click Finish and Save All.


The final step is to Assign it the computers you want it on – note that with this system, you can create different preference packages, and assign it to whichever computers you want. You can only apply these packages to computers that are on a Pro account – Free users need not apply:


Select all the computers you want to add from the list, and then hit the arrow to assign them to the group. Click Save when you’re done – your settings have now been applied to all the selected computers at once. This was a huge time saver, and a great way to make sure you have the same settings on all your remote computers.

Excel slow to open network files

We ran into an issue with Excel files taking a long time to open from a network location after Trend 8 was installed – the issue has something to do with the way Trend scans files before it allows them to open. One of the indicators of this problem was that when you open a spreadsheet off the server, we’d see three dialogue steps in the progress bar:

Contacting filename.xls…
Downloading filename.xls…
Opening filename.xls…

With a progress indicator beside each step, almost as if there’s a delay forcing a download of the file. When Trend is disabled, the file opens immediately – at least, the steps happen so fast that we don’t see them at all.


The fix that was recommended by Trend support worked for this situation:

  • Open the ofscan.ini share on the server where Trend is installed.


  • Find AvoidExcelSaveIssue in ofcscan.ini, and change it to 0.


  • Logon the web console, and go to Global settings. Click on “Save” without doing any change. This will push the AvoidExcelSaveIssue setting to client.


  • Wait for 5 minutes for the setting to deploy.
  • To verify if the setting was applied:

Open the registry and go to


Verify that the REG_DWORD —> AvoidExcelSaveIssue = 0 is in place
Reboot machine to apply the settings – you should be good to go after the reboot. Of course, your mileage may vary

QNAP Offline?

Most of our clients use QNAP devices with Backup Exec – they’re amazing devices, and we love to use them. We ran into an interesting issue in the last few days, though (right after the switch from Daylight Savings Time)… we found that some of our client’s backups were failing in Backup Exec, and that the QNAP would show as being offline. And surprisingly, after flicking the switch in Backup Exec to bring it online again, it would immediately go right back to being offline.


Another clue to the strangeness of this problem is that if you tried to connect to it by UNC patch it would give an error about the server being misconfigured – all in all, it was acting bizarre.


Well, turns out the problem was a timing one – if you log onto the QNAP and select General Settings:





And then Date and Time:



You might find (as we did) that your beloved QNAP did not make the time change with your servers, or maybe that it has just fallen out of touch by more than a few minutes – which can be enough to make things fall over.



As this screenshot shows – make sure your time settings are accurate, and then make sure to set the time to synchronize automatically – either to an internet time server, or to your local Domain Controller (like what we have here). We found the time interval was set to 7 days, but a good idea would be to bump that up to a happy medium like once per day – that way your QNAP doesn’t wait a week to bring itself back on track again, and your backups don’t fail on you.

Once you get your time sorted out, you should be able to bring it online again in Backup Exec and start pushing backups out to it again.

Hope this helps… Good luck and have fun!

Exclaimer Outlook Photos

Outlook Photos by Exclaimer is a great (free!) utility for adding photos to your Exchange users and distribution groups, allowing you to put faces to names and greatly improving the social aspects that Outlook 2010 has built in (It’s also a great way of super-imposing mustaches on all your users in preparation for Movember :D).

Start by downloading the program from their website and installing it on your system. You can install it on any computer on the domain, as it will ask you where your AD is, and scan it remotely – you don’t need to install it on your server.

There are several ways to go about getting the users who need photos – you can either tell Outlook Photos to scan the entire Active Directory to find users that need photos:


Or you can point at a folder of photos that you’ve got prepared and let Outlook Photos match them up:


If you’re going to be using this option, make sure you name all your images with the correct names of the users you want to update. OP will scan through your AD and match the file names to the names of people it finds, and then ask you to manually assign any names it can’t find a match for.


Also, you can refine your search to a specific OU by clicking the Scan AD button:



Once you click it, a window will pop up where you can select the container that you want to search:



If you have multiple Domain Controllers, a warning will pop up in the ribbon recommending you select a specific DC to make the changes on:



Go ahead and choose a DC, and click OK for it to search the container and show you all the users that need / have pictures associated with their profile (based on your choice of what it should display):



Once you’ve found the user or users that you want to update, double click on them in the list and select Choose Picture:



Browse for the picture that you want to replace it with and click Update: note that whatever size image you choose, it will be adjusted to 96×96 pixels, so you might want to start with them at that size if you don’t want scaling silliness to ensue.



After putting your admin password in, the thumbnailPhoto field is now populated – rinse and repeat until you’ve got all your users updated.



One important thing to remember is that these changes won’t show up automatically, as Outlook will only sync the Global Address List once per day – if you want to force the changes sooner in order to see the magic that you have just created, open Outlook and click Send /Receive – Send/Receive Groups – then Download Address Book…



Using Cron to automate MySQL maintenance

We recently needed to go through a list of around 50 sites that we host through HostGator and optimize all of their MySQL databases. Going through each one and optimizing the database tables manually was a very unappealing process, so my trusty compatriot Keith worked out a process to use Cron jobs to automate the procedure. It took a bit of tweaking to get the right arguments in place, and a lot of looking around on the internet to fix a problem with conflicting arguments in the script, but in the end we triumphed… and man, is it awesome!


This is taken in the context of our site hosting in HostGator, but the process will be similar (or the same) for any site that uses CPanel.


First, log into your CPanel and look for the Cron jobs icon:



Update the email address that you want your Cron job to go to: in this case, we’re specifying the output, but it never hurts to have this set for any future jobs you want to run that don’t need to have a specific email output configuration. (more on this in a bit).



The next section is where you create your Cron job – in order to test and make sure everything is working, create a new job to run every 15 minutes. What, you don’t believe in testing scripts before releasing them into the wild? I… I don’t even know you any more!



Paste the following code into the command section:

mysqlcheck -u root -ppassword --auto-repair --optimize --all-databases 2>&1 | mail -s "MySQL Database Optimization" myemail


And click on the Add New Cron Job button



*Replace root with your username and password with your password – note that while there is a space between the –u and your username, there is no space between –p and your password, and (most importantly), there are two dashes on the auto-repair, optimize, and all-databases switches. Also replace myemail with the email address that you’d like to have the results sent to (


Here’s what the individual sections mean:

mysqlcheck –u root –ppassword --auto-repair --optimize –all-databases


This section is pretty straightforward – runs a check on all your databases and repairs and optimizes them. If you’d like to run this against a single database, change —all databases to db_name or —databases [database1 database2] and so on.


2>&1 | mail -s "MySQL Database Optimization" myemail


This is the bit that outputs to an email address that you specify, and allows you to specify a subject for your email. If you leave this option off entirely, it will send an email upon completion to the email that you specified earlier, but it will dump the entire script into the subject line of your email, which includes your username and password – yikes!


If you’d like to not have an email sent at all, add this section right after all-databases:

>/dev/null 2>&1


Your new job will show up immediately below, and should look like this:



Once you’ve received a confirmation email, and everything is working – simply go back and create a new job that runs on whatever schedule you’d like – in our case, we chose the 1st and the 15th of every month, but you can use any timeframe you’d like.




Delete your test job, and you’re all set to go!