Authentication issues with SharePoint in Windows Explorer mode resolved with browser proxy settings

Every now and again I get infuriated by our Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (2007) platform as it prompts for credentials (before failing to authenticate and repeating the process) when I go to open a document library in Windows Explorer mode.  Today I found the cause of that issue.

I’d been working at Microsoft’s offices yesterday and had disabled the proxy server settings in my browser.  After returning home and VPNing to our network, I was able to access both Internet and intranet resources as normal and I forgot about the proxy server change. Only when trying to work out why I was being asked for authentication as I tried to use SharePoint in Windows Explorer mode did I remember to turn it back on again – after which everything worked as it should.

It may be peculiar to our infrastructure, or it may be a wider issue that’s worth mentioning so, if you experience authentication issues when trying to open a SharePoint library in Windows Explorer mode, double-check your browser’s proxy server settings!

“Rogue” retention policies in Exchange Online after false positive junk mail is moved to the Inbox

My Office 365 tenant was recently upgraded to the “Wave 15” version of the service, meaning that my email is now hosted on Exchange 2013, rather than 2010 (Microsoft has provided an article that helps users to understand which version of the service they are on).

Unfortunately, since the upgrade, an awful lot of my legitimate email is getting trapped as junk.  After moving it back to the Inbox, I noticed that one of the items displayed a message about retention policies, highlighting that it would expire in 30 days.

I don’t use retention policies (with gigabytes of empty space in my mailbox I don’t need to), so I thought this was a little strange, until I realised that this was a side effect of having been previously flagged as junk, where there is a retention policy set to remove mail after a month.  I then found that the Managed Folder Assistant (which applies the retention policies) only runs every 7 days on Exchange Online but can be forced in PowerShell.

Sure enough, once I’d eventually managed to connect to Office 365 in PowerShell and run the Start-ManagedFolderAssistant -Identity mailboxalias command, the email was no longer flagged for expiry.

There’s more information on setting up and managing retention policies in Exchange Online with Windows PowerShell on the Outlook.com help pages.

Issues connecting to Office 365 using PowerShell? Check the client firewall

I’ve written previously about managing my Office 365 tenant using Windows PowerShell (Microsoft has since provided its own documentation on the topic) but I tried today and found that I couldn’t get a connection.

Every time I tried to create a session, the response came back as:

[ps.outlook.com] Connecting to remote server failed with the following error message : The WinRM client cannot process the request because the server name cannot be resolved. For more information, see the about_Remote_Troubleshooting Help topic.

+ CategoryInfo : OpenError: (System.Manageme….RemoteRunspace:RemoteRunspace) [], PSRemotingTransportExc
eption

+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PSSessionOpenFailed

Strangely though, it could resolve the server name as nslookup ps.outlook.com told me:

Non-authoritative answer:
Name: pod51000psh.outlook.com
Address: 132.245.1.167
Aliases: ps.outlook.com

Microsoft knowledge base article 2570535 includes steps for troubleshooting Windows PowerShell issues that affect Exchange Online for Office 365 and suggested

This issue occurs if an internal firewall isn’t started or if the Windows Remote Management service isn’t started

I confirmed that WinRM was running and allowing basic authentication but still couldn’t connect.  So I focused on the “internal firewall isn’t started” part.

Sure enough, the issue was Symentec Endpoint Prevention on my corporate laptop.  I used my wife’s PC instead, and connected with no issues at all…

Migrating SMS messages from iOS to Android

The iPhone 3GS that I use for work is now getting a little long in the tooth, no longer eligible for updates (read security risk) and the battery often runs out before the end of the day.  I still have a 4S that I use (with iOS 7) in my personal life but the company iPhone was replaced today with an Android handset (Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini).  This is my first Android phone – and will be an interesting experience because I want to see how this Google platform gets on with Microsoft Exchange (my previous experience with ActiveSync has been with iOS and Windows Phone 7).

Initial impressions are mixed and it may take me some time to get used to Android (or maybe it’s the O2/Samsung customisations) but I do have one observation: Google Play seems much faster than iTunes for app downloads…

The first apps installed on my phone were iSMS2droid, Dropbox and Spotify. Two of those apps seem pretty obvious, but “what’s iSMS2droid?”, you might ask.  It’s a handy app for importing SMS messages extracted from an iPhone backup to Android format.

The mechanics of transferring SMS messages from iPhone to Android are described in a hongkiat.com blog post but, in short, the steps are:

  1. Backup the iPhone in iTunes
  2. Locate the backup file in %appdata%/Apple Computer/Mobile Sync/Backup/ on Windows or ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ on a Mac
  3. Open the folder with the most recent timestamp (one per synced device, I think)
  4. Search for the file called 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28 and copy it to your Android phone (I did this via Dropbox)
  5. Open iSMS2droid and tap “Select iPhone SMS Database”, then point the app at the file you transferred from the iPhone backup. This will allow the message database to be converted and will save a file called iSMS2droid.xml (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore).
  6. At this stage you’ll need another app, called SMS Backup & Restore, which can read the iSMS2droid.xml file (on my phone, it was in /storage/sdcard0/SMSBackupRestore) and import the messages.  All but one of my SMS messages were then restored and availble in the Android app.

Unfortunately, I did have a couple of issues to resolve along the way.

With SMS messages transferred, next step is contacts.  I can see these in Outlook, so pretty sure ActiveSync is handling them for me… let’s see what happens when I connect the ‘droid to the company servers…