Pimping my new techie blog – Tips and Tricks

I run an IT services business in Hamilton, Ontario.  One of my current challenges surrounds making contacts and finding work, mostly due to the fact that I’ve just moved to Hamilton and just started the business.  Not to mention I’m not from Ontario and I don’t know a lot of people to start with!

I’m doing several things to get out into the community business-wise.  I’m going to a lot of networking events, getting in touch with local business owners, and contacting local IT companies.  I’m also advertising online in a few places.

That’s not enough.  I was with a large company that raised 160 million dollars due to their strategies building websites; why not take what I learned from there apply what I can to my own business website?  I’m not a marketing major, or even a minor for that matter, but I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and what it takes to be successful (and not!) in the web world.

Let’s combine that with my skills as an IT Goddess.  🙂  I managed a high-availability production environment for over the same highly successful company.  We had clustered web servers, redundant everything, blades, virtualization, you name it!

So, I love technology and I love the web.  One of the things I do when I’m working with technology is keep detailed notes.  When I come across something that’s particularly frustrating or interesting, I keep it filed away for future reference.  Instead of filing it away, I’ve created a tech tips and tricks section for my business website.  It’s basically a blog, and I have a ton of filed away stuff I can put up on it, and it will provide some useful information on my business website.  Having your contact info and what you do is just not enough.

Tech Tips and Tricks at Picobits.com

Operamini on the Blackberry rocks

One of the features seriously lacking on the Blackberry is the mobile browser. That is one of the reasons I was considering getting a smartphone with Windows Mobile. The Blackberry browser just sucks. I’m not even sure it’s qualified to be called a browser. It does the job, but poorly.

I’ve had just about every model of the Blackberry and I’m currently on the Pearl (8100). I’ve tried the 8800 and then went back to the Pearl just for the small form factor. Typing on it is a real Pain In The Ass until it learns your custom words, but I find the features and the small form factor are worth the hassle of getting SureType customized. But I digress…

Enter Opera Mini 4. (It’s in beta.)

I installed Opera Mini on my Blackberry on Saturday. It was super easy to install. Just go to www.operamini.com on your mobile browser and choose the download link for the beta of Opera Mini 4. My first impression was, “Wow, nice!” It feels just like using Opera on a Windows Mobile platform, which is exactly what I wanted. It crams the whole page into your screen, then you can pick what you want to zoom in on, and scroll around on the page. The downside is that it takes a few seconds to load, but who cares? Once you’re using it, you’re fine. Also, it wasn’t readily evident that I needed to use the QW and OP keys to use the bottom two menus (if you’re on a regular phone I’m sure it would be obvious to use the two navigation buttons, and the 8800 is the same — you use the Q and P keys).

It has only been two days, less actually, but I still find I’m using OperaMini more than the “old” Blackberry browser. Score 1 for Opera!

And there are a whole host of features I haven’t even explored yet!

BES and Exchange hosting – Exchangemymail.com vs. LanLogic

After two days of fiddling with my email, I’m finally up and running on both Exchange and BES with all proper connections from my Outlook clients and my Blackberry.

Jake recommended I use LanLogic, but I researched other options and found that LanLogic is a little steep on the storage pricepoint compared to other vendors. Jake insisted that didn’t matter so much since their service is excellent, but I wasn’t so sure. Exchangemymail seemed to come highly recommended according to posts in the Blackberry Forums, plus they offered a small discount. So I went with Exchangemymail.com, not knowing that Jake actually did use them before going to LanLogic. I soon found out why, and went the same route he did.

  1. The signup for Exchangemymail went relatively smoothly, no issues there.
  2. (Problem 1) I logged in to my control panel and attempted to set up a user. The first try didn’t work – I got an error that the account wasn’t created. The second try didn’t either. The error was “Email address can not be created because registrar status of the domain is not ‘Ready’.” I created a support ticket and apparently the issue was on their end. They did some magic and I re-tried, successfully creating the account.
  3. I set up DNS (I’m using my own hosted DNS through DynDNS) according to the welcome email I got.
  4. I set up Outlook (2007) according to their documentation and it connected fine.
  5. I tested sending email from my client to my gMail account. Presto.
  6. (Problem 2) I replied from my gMail account…uh oh. I was getting a bounce-back error saying “544 No relaying allowed – psmtp”.
  7. (Problem 3) I created a BES account in my control panel and attempted to activate my Blackberry. No amount of trying was helping. I wiped it a gazillion times and retried.
  8. (Problem 4) I attempted to log in to the Postini control panel but kept getting the error “Invalid log in or server error. Please try again.”
  9. At this point I contacted support via the ticket system about the newest three problems. Their (pretty quick) response was that they were having problems with Postini which was likely the cause of all of my issues. About 90 minutes later I got an email from them stating they were able to add me to the system and I should try again.
  10. I could now send email to my new account from gMail, but I still couldn’t log in to Postini (no biggie, or so I thought) and my Blackberry wouldn’t activate.
  11. I ended up solving the activation problem myself my getting around the wireless activation by installing Desktop Manager, which really isn’t needed unless your wireless isn’t working, and activating it “wiredly”.
  12. Day two. (Problem 5) I realize that I can’t send mail to Jake. He can send mail to me, but my emails to him go into the Black Hole of Lost Email. I contact support again, explaining that he’s a former customer and it’s likely due to some setting they still have. Sure enough, that’s the case. Although they said it’s “normal” to keep old settings around…which I find odd. They removed the setting and asked me to try again. I tried again and it didn’t work.
  13. (Problem 6) I settle in to setting up my new domain’s website and the PHP form just won’t send mail to my address. Finally, I check the obvious and try sending mail to my gMail account instead of my EMM account and it works. Now, I’m pissed.
  14. (Problem 4 again) I tried logging in to Postini again thinking maybe it’s some sort of spam setting not allowing mail through from my site. No go.
  15. I tried sending mail to Jake again. No go.
  16. I wrote a final email to them:

At this point, I’m extremely dissatisfied with EMM.

1. I’m still not able to send emails to [Jake’s domain].
2. Sending emails to my primary email account at EMM from a form on my website doesn’t work, but it does send to any other email address. I suspect this is related to Postini BUT
3. I can’t log in to Postini. Still. I mentioned this in the last ticket.

At this point I have to abandon your service and request a refund. I have wasted nearly two days of effort on your service, and while your response has typically been swift, I can’t afford any more delays.

Once my account is canceled, please remove all instances of Picobits.com from your system.

Angela

I signed up for LanLogic and was set up with my Exchange account immediately. I emailed them and asked for BES to be set up and Ted emailed me before I even had a chance to switch my DNS to the new servers asking me to switch them. I emailed him back and was set up with a BES account right away.

I still had wireless activation issues, the same issues as with EMM, but it wasn’t such a big deal since it was something I could fix myself anyway.

I got my refund, minus the “activation fees” from EMM.

Jake got to say, “I told you so.” And he was right.

Network issues on Vista.

I’ve been having network issues on my Vista install for months. I think I did a Windows Update one day, months ago, that broke it. I couldn’t get into Network properties at all – whenever I tried I would get a blank screen. I couldn’t update my VPN connection at all, getting into the properties of it was impossible. Blank windows that weren’t responding seemed to be the prevalent issue, and when I was able to see the status of the network it would say “Server execution failed”.

It seems you need to add the NT Authority/Local Service to the Administrators account. Yeah, it’s dodgy, but it worked for me.

Right click “Computer”
Click “Manage”
Under the “System Tools” section, expand “Local Users and Groups”
Click “Groups”
Open “Administrators”
Click “Add”
Click “Advanced”
Click “Find Now”
Double click “Local Service”
Click “Ok”
“NT Authority\Local Service” should show up in the list now
Click “Ok”
Close Computer Management and reboot.

And of course I can’t find where I found this originally…