Outlook 2011 and the really low email attachment size limit

No. Not really.

Anyone with an Exchange 2007 email account who recently upgraded from Office 2008 to 2011 on the Mac might find themselves unable to send emails with attachments that are over 10MB in size.  While Entourage used WebDAV, Outlook 2011 uses Exchange Web Services (EWS) for email access. The default size limit for sending emails using EWS is 10MB. To fix this, you’ll need to edit a few files named “web.config” on the Exchange server, run a few commands and then reboot the sucker just because its a good time.

Here’s what you do:

  1. On your Exchange server go to “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\ClientAccess\exchweb\ews”
  2. Make a copy the “web.config” file – just in case you break something.
  3. Open up the “web.config” file in notepad or Notepad++ (if you’re badass)
  4. Find the line with the following “httpRuntime maxRequestLength=”13280″”
  5. Change the 13280 value to whatever you want. Note that this value is in KB.
  6. Save and close the file
  7. Next, you’ll want to repeat steps 1-6 with the “web.config” files in the “\ClientAccess\owa” and “\ClientAccess\sync” folders.
  8. Open up the command prompt and enter “CD %windir%\system32\inetsrv”
  9. Enter the following commands:

    “appcmd set config “Default Web Site/ews” -section:requestFiltering -requestLimits.maxAllowedContentLength:#########”


    “appcmd set config “Default Web Site/owa” -section:requestFiltering -requestLimits.maxAllowedContentLength:#########”


    “appcmd set config “Default Web Site/Microsoft-Server-Activesync” -section:requestFiltering -requestLimits.maxAllowedContentLength:#########”

    Note: Replace the # with the values you entered in in the web.config files but this time in bytes. If you entered 100000 in the web.config file, enter 100000000 for the value in the command line.
  10. Enter the “iisreset” command
  11. Take a moment to reflect on how awesome you are for winning.
Further reading:
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Create an SPF record like a boss

What’s an SPF Record?

Well friend, an SPF record helps to provide verification that an email came from a legitimate source. Why would you care about that? You see, most SPAM comes from illegitimate sources (go figure).  Spammers can make it look like an email came from a certain email address even though it didn’t; which is a reason why SPAM sometimes gets past SPAM blockers.

Quite inconspicuous.

This is where the SPF record comes in: the SPF record is actually just a listing of the addresses of a domain’s email servers. Basically, a domain like abnergoodwin.com has a set of email servers that it uses to send it’s emails through. The SPF record for abnergoodwin.com will contain a list of those email servers that I use to send emails. If abner@abnergoodwin.com sends an email to you, your email service can make sure that the email actually came from the abnergoodwin.com domain by checking abnergoodwin.com’s SPF record.

If a spammer tried to send SPAM email and make it look like it came from an abnergoodwin.com email address any email server that received that email could check abnergoodwin.com’s SPF record and confirm that the email was illegitimate. If all email services used SPF records, it would make it much harder for spammers to waste our time and resources with their inane, offensive, junk.

That’s cool. How do I set one up?

There’s a wizard over at openspf.org that can guide you through the record creation process. Before you get all click-happy on that link, there is some information that you’ll need to gather first. You’re going to need:

  • A list of all of your domains – even the ones that you don’t send email with
  • A list of all of your outgoing email servers
  • Access to change your domain’s DNS records

Now you can go to http://old.openspf.org/wizard.html and plug your domain/server info into the wizard. The wizard generates your SPF record for you which you can then add to your DNS records. Once you’ve generated your own SPF record, you might want to run it through this nifty SPF Record Checker to make sure that it works.

If your email is hosted by a service like Google Apps, the email service may provide information on creating SPF records for your domain. Check out these links for SPF record information for the following email hosting services:

Google Apps

Go Daddy

Rackspace

Aaannd yeah, you can pretty much find this information on your own by searching for a minute or two on Google.

Pro Tip: search for the name of your hosting service  + SPF record. Works like a charm.

IP Office – Routing hunt group calls to a specific voicemail box without Voicemail Pro

Call Flow Diagram
The caller can either dial 3 and leave a message or 0 and leave a message on the Main Hunt Group voicemail box if both Office workers are unavailable.

The company that I work for has a field office with a basic IP Office phone system that only has Embedded Voicemail. There are two support people in the office that act as operators. When the system was originally set up, the Auto Attendant would give the caller the option to press 3 to leave a message or 0 to go to the operator. When a caller pressed 3, they would go to an empty hunt group called “General Mail”, with voicemail on so that the caller could leave a message. When the caller would press 0, it would go to a hunt group called “Main” with the two office workers in it. The problem was, if no one in the Main Overflow hunt group answered the call, the caller had to leave a message. This would mean that the two office workers would have to check for voice mail in two separate voicemail boxes.

This was not an ideal situation. The consensus was that if a caller left a message after dialing 3, or 0, the voicemail should end up in the same voicemail box. After a fair amount of tinkering, I got this to work pretty well. Here’s how I did it:

1. Set up a forwarding user

Calls that go to a hunt group cannot be set up to forward to another hunt group’s voice mail. A hunt group can be set as an “overflow” hunt group but if a call ends up in the overflow group, the phone system won’t dump the caller into the overflow hunt group’s voicemail box; it will ring until the caller hangs up. However, a user can be set up to automatically forward all calls to any short code or extension.

The phone system that I was working on had several unused users with extensions already set up. I renamed one of the users “FWDGeneral Mail”.

2. Create a short code that allows the caller to leave a voicemail message in a specific voicemail box

Short Code
This short code sends the caller to the voicemail of extension 275 (The General Mail hunt group.)

Create a new short code. Set the code to one that is not already taken. I set mine to *23. Set the feature to “Voicemail Collect”. Set the Telephone Number to “#Ext”. Be sure to include the quotation marks and change Ext to the extension number of the hunt group that you want to direct the caller to so that they can leave a message.

3. Set the user to forward to the new short code

In the user’s settings, select the “Forwarding” tab and add a check mark next to “Forward Unconditional”, “Forward Hunt Group Calls”, and “Forward Internal Calls”. In the field next to “Forward Number”, type in the short code number that was set up in step 2.

Forward to short code
User's settings for forwarding to a short code.

4. Add the user to the hunt group that you want to route the call from

This is the hunt group that you want to set up so that if no one answers the call, the caller is redirected to the extension that the short code points to. Create or modify an existing hunt group. Set the ring mode to “Sequential” and add your new user to the bottom of the User List.

Add your new user to the hunt group.

So now that you’ve set everything up, this is how it should work:

When the caller ends up in the Main hunt group, the phone system will route the call to each person on the list in sequence. If no one in the hunt group answers the call, the call is routed to the last user in the group (the one that was created in step 1) and is automatically forwarded to the voicemail box that was specified in the short code.

While the solution is far from elegant, it’s the best one that I could find outside of coughing up the extra money for Voicemail Pro.

Let’s start off with an easy one…

Symbolism of evil!

Microsoft Office is showing strange symbols in Word or Outlook

When I worked at a help desk I used to run into this all the time. People would call up and describe how  they would be writing an email or working on a document when all of a sudden strange symbols like this ¶ would appear.

It turns out that these symbols are formatting marks which can be made invisible again by pressing the CTRL+SHIFT+8 keys at the same time. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again as it may take a couple of tries before you get it right.

For more reading on this “feature” see the Microsoft article: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/show-or-hide-paragraph-marks-HA001175277.aspx