iphone_homeApple’s recently released iPhone OS 3.1 has caused headaches & more than a little confusion for some users with Microsoft Exchange accounts. While the OS 3.1 update improves security policy adherence for iPhones when connecting to Exchange Servers, it also has the unfortunate side effect of breaking security compatibility with pre-3GS iPhones & all but the most recent iPod touches. The end result: many iPhone users who upgraded to OS 3.1 suddenly fond they could no longer sync with any Exchange Servers!

Fortunately, the synchronization issue is limited to Exchange 2007 Servers running SP1 & above, & there is a work-around to re-enable synchronization. Unfortunately, the work-around requires either convincing Exchange administrators to create a security policy exception or rolling back to OS3.0 on the iPhone.

In order to re-enable Exchange syncing with pre-3GS iPhones, Exchange administrators will need to create an EAS policy exception that will allow connections to mobile devices that do not support device encryption (either globally or on a per-user basis).

If the creation of policy exceptions is not an option (& that will likely be the case more often than not) there are 2 options: 1) upgrade to iPhone 3GS or one of the latest 32GB or 64GB iPod touch models, or 2) rollback to OS 3.0 (what will undoubtedly be the most popular solution).

The easiest way to rollback to OS 3.0 is obviously to restore the phone from a recent backup using iTunes (you did create a backup before you upgraded your phone, didn’t you???). Apple has a support article detailing how to backup, update, & restore iPhones & iPods. In case of emergency (ie: no recent backups!) you can go to this site to download firmware for iPhones & iPods. [NOTE: This site is NOT supported by Apple in ANY way!!!)

Finally, Apple has also updated it’s Enterprise Deployment Guide for iPhones. If you’re a sys-admin involved in the deployment & management of iPhones &/or iPods in an enterprise environment, this doc is a must-read.

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apple-mail-iconI recently started experiencing an issue with Apple’s Mail application – every time I would select an email with an attachment, Mail would freeze for a few seconds before shutting down with the standard “unexpected quit” error dialog. I originally suspected corrupt emails, thinking back to issues with corrupt emails crashing Entourage if the Preview pane was enabled. Except that this time Mail would crash on EVERY email with an attachment – & there was no way that every email coming in was getting corrupted.

I cleared caches, rebuilt the mail index, removed Mail’s plist, even repaired permissions – all for nothing.

I finally stumbled onto a thread on the Apple Discussions forum suggesting that Mail might not be the correct version for the OS that I was running (10.5.7) & that the 10.5.7 combo updater should be re-installed.

Sure enough, here’s the version I was running when Mail was crashing:

Mailv3

And here’s the version that SHOULD be running under 10.5.7:

Mailv3.6How does this happen?

I had recently performed an archive & install on my laptop & being my overly cautious self, I hadn’t deleted the old System files (the Previous System folder). Turns out that when I ran the 10.5.7 combo updater after doing the archive & install, the combo updater actually updated the files in the previous System folder, not the newly installed System files!!!

The fix? Move the Previous System folder to the trash & re-run the 10.5.7 combo updater. Suddenly Mail is v3.6 & everything runs flawlessly again!

Thanks to Ernie Stamper on the Apple Discussions board for identifying this deceptive (& peculiar) bug!

iphone_homeI recently ran into some serious issues getting a client’s Shaw email account configured on their new iPhone. Using the settings copies from Mail, sending or receiving email on the phone would hang, sometimes taking the better part of 15 minutes & sometimes never sending at all. Often the the entire send/receive process would hang, requiring a reboot of the phone.

A bit of research (& a call to Shaw tech support for confirmation) revealed that Shaw has particular settings for use with mobile devices and that the standard settings used with desktop email applications will not work. More importantly, using Shaw’s own SMTP servers is not recommended by Shaw – for best performance, Shaw recommends using the SMTP server provided by Rogers or Fido.

What is frustrating about this arrangement, however, is that my experience has shown that even when using the SMTP server from Fido or Rogers, if wifi is enabled & connected to a wireless network, sending mail still takes so long as to be virtually unusable. In fact, in a thread posted on eh-mac.ca, a user states that Shaw tech support recommended disabling wifi when sending email – something which I confirmed provides a dramatic improvement in performance sending email.

Sigh.

On that note, the following are the settings to be used for setting up Shaw email on your iPhone. Please be aware – if you lan to configure a Shaw email account on your iPhone it is HIGHLY recommended that you disable wifi before sending email!

Setup Shaw email on the iPhone:

  1. Touch Settings
  2. Touch Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Touch Add Account
  4. Touch Other
  5. Acount & Password are your Shaw email account & password
  6. Select select the POP tab
  7. Username is the part of your email before @shaw.ca
    1. ie: for name@shaw.ca would be name
  8. Host: pop.shaw.ca
  9. Outgoing Mail Server: gprs.fido.ca (Fido) or smtp.rogerswirelessdata.com (Rogers)

Remember! If you have trouble sending email over wifi, turn your wifi OFF & resend!

Shaw’s Residential Email Service Details (external link)

disk_utility_icon

I recently had a drive fail in a client’s RAID setup. 3 mirrored drives in a software RAID0 (mirrored) configuration. No big deal, you say! In a 3 drive configuration like that, you can swap the faulty drive without even losing any redundancy! Simple!

Right.

Physically replacing the drive went as planned, dead easy. But the rebuild failed contiuously. It should take hours (they were terabyte drives) but instead would stop after a few minutes, showing the replacement drive status as “Failed”. RAID Status obviously remained “Degraded”.

A bit of digging around on the web turned up this Apple knowledgebase article on rebuilding software RAID mirrors, which pointed out two VERY usefully pieces of information:

  1. You should use the command-line diskutil for rebuilding a RAID. Sometimes Disk Utility will be unable to successfully
    rebuild a degraded RAID mirror.

    • (Not an issue, this is standard practice anyways.)
  2. You should not rebuild the rebuild a mirror while it is the boot volume. Rebuilding a RAID Mirror will sometimes fail if it is the boot volume.
    • (Major issue, as it defeats much of the benefits of running a RAID in the first place! Sure, the data is safe – VERY important – but now I have to take a mail server offline for 12hours while the RAID rebuilds?!?!?)

The successful rebuild of the mirror involved both the above steps. The mail server was booted to an external drive and diskutil was used to rebuild the mirror. Before doing anything, however, I created a backup image file of the server (just to be safe…). The server was offline for approximately 12 hours, but it might have needed less – once I was confident that the rebuild was progressing successfully, I tried to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

The moral of this story is obviously that software RAID solutions are in no way a substitute of hardware solutions. If you need guaranteed uptime, you need to invest – but we all knew that already… right?

For more information on rebuilding a software RAID in OS X, read Apple’s knowledge base article: How to rebuild a software RAID mirror.

beachballWe’ve all seen & experienced the frustration of OS X’s rainbow-coloured beach ball (frequently referred to as the Spinning Beach Ball). Applications stop responding & sometimes the entire system seems to grind to a halt once the cursor has changed into that seemingly cheery multi-coloured ball.

Despite the friendly colours, there’s really nothing pleasant about the appearance of this particular icon, & the frustration of losing control of your applications (or entire computer) is compounded by the fact that it’s never really clear just exactly what is going on & why things are locking up in the first place.

Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to this particular issue. The beach ball can be a symptom of any number of issues & the possible solutions are as varied as the symptoms. So what is happening that causes the ball to appear? & how can we minimize its occurance?

What can cause the Spinning Beach Ball

Basically, the cursor will change from the regular pointer into the multi-coloured ball any time that the processor (CPU) finds itself waiting for a response, whether from the operating system, an application or a piece of hardware. The changing cursor is meant to inform users that the CPU is stuck waiting for a response from somewhere & cannot continue until it receives one. (Please note, this is a very basic breakdown of the issue, & not at all a proper technical description!!!)

There are a number of potential causes for this system ‘hang’ & the solutions vary, depending on the cause although they can be broken down into 3 basic categories: hardware, operating system, & application. Follow the links below for more information…

Hardware Causes (coming soon…)

Network Causes (coming soon…)

Application Causes (coming soon…)

entourage_mac_2008_iconWhen Entourage runs its Send & Receive routine, it copies data from the Exchange server to the local workstation. It’s not uncommon for this local cache to get corrupted, which typically results in erratic synchronization. The end result is users that don’t receive new emails or the emails they send never reach the recipient. Even more frustrating for users is that the problems are usually random – some mail comes & goes fine, some doesn’t. A critical clue is that when using the OWA web interface, there aren’t any problems sending or receiving mail.

Fortunately there’s an easy fix – clear the cache in Entourage. You can clear caches on specific folders, or for the entire account. The process deletes all the data that’s stored on the local workstation, then connects to the Exchange server & downloads everything from scratch. Think of it as a kind of reset button for the user’s Entourage account. Instructions for clearing the Entourage cache are below. If you’re interested in a little more info on the subject, check out this post. For instructions, read on.

Reseting the Exchange cache in Entourage

  • Right-click on the exchange identity (or sub-folder) & select Folder Properties

ExchangeIdentity.jpg

  • Under the General tab, click the Empty button in the section titled Empty Cache. NOTE: Any local items (calendar events, etc) that have NOT been synced with the Exchange server will be lost.

EntourageWarning.jpg

  • It may take some time to download all of the users data from the Exchange server. Be patient.