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In the October 1999 article "Send Individual Messages to Distribution List Members," Sue Mosher and I explained how to set up a system that included a text file of email addresses. We mentioned that the administrative assistant maintains this file, but we didn't explain that you need to sort this file frequently to remove duplicate entries and to make the file easier to administer.
Sorting the entries is easy; for example, you can use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or DOS commands. However, when the text file has 600 or more entries, identifying duplicates can be quite a chore. Because this system is supposed to be simple, I wrote a script to simplify sorting the entries.
The script is a VBScript file that runs under the Windows Scripting Host (WSH). The script sorts a text file that has entries on separate lines and then removes all duplicates, white space, and unnecessary carriage returns and line feeds. If you want to implement the system that we outlined last month, you'll find this script helpful for maintaining the system.
—Tom Floodeen Jr.
Insert Signatures in Outlook from Word
I like to use Microsoft Word as my email editor in Outlook. One day I became frustrated that I couldn't use the Signature Picker feature when Word is the editor.
To overcome this limitation, I created several AutoCorrect entries in Word, one corresponding to each of the signatures I wanted to use. Before I send a message, I type the keyword at the bottom of the message, then press Enter, and Word inserts the signature that keyword represents. Here's how to set up this solution:
- Open a new email message, type the first signature, and set the font, format, and colors. Highlight the entire signature.
- Click Tools, AutoCorrect. In the Replace text box, type a keyword that won't usually appear as a word or any part of a word. I use my initials and then a short identifier of the signature's purpose. For example, I might use rwpr for my personal signature and rwtag for my signature with a tag-line quotation.
- Select Formatted text.
- Click OK.
- When you send a new message, type your keyword and press Enter at the end of the message; Word will insert your custom signature.
Managing Mail on a Heterogeneous Network
In April 1999's "Outlook Tips and Techniques" column, a user asked, "How can I restrict distribution lists (DLs) so that only certain people can send mail to them?" I applied the concept in Sue Mosher's response to a situation I had run across.
My university has two email systems—one for the faculty and students (Netscape Mail Server on a Sun Microsystems UNIX box) and one for the administrative staff (previously Microsoft Mail 3.2, now Exchange Server 5.5). Although everyone has a mailbox on the Netscape Mail Server, the DNS server has aliases in the form of firstname.lastname@example.org to forward messages either to the Netscape mailbox or to the Exchange mailbox. These aliases hide the fact that the system has two distinct messaging systems.
Some of our IT staff receive their email from only the Netscape server. The problem was that those staff members needed to have access to the calendaring functions that the Exchange email staff members have access to. Also, the Netscape IT staff members needed to appear in the Exchange Global Address List (GAL) but have the system send their email to their Netscape account.
To solve the problem, I followed these steps:
- I created Windows NT domain logon accounts to match the staff members' Novell InternetWare logon account IDs. The users see one logon prompt and have access to both networks. After these users successfully log on to both networks, they change their NT logon account password to match their Novell account password.
- I created a custom recipient with the faculty member's firstname.last
- I created a regular mailbox, selected Properties and then the Delivery Options tab. Under the Alternate Recipient section, I clicked Modify and selected the Custom Recipient entry for the staff member.
- On the Advanced tab of the Custom Recipient's Properties sheet, I selected the Hide from address book check box.
- Finally, each of these staff members configured a profile to connect to the Exchange server, their Exchange mailbox account, and the university's Netscape Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory.
This setup is all it takes for these users to log on to the domain and the Exchange server and see the appropriate Public Folders and the GAL, while still using the Netscape Communicator client to read and send email from the Netscape Mail Server.
Warn Users, Don't Hound Them
Many organizations have imposed storage limits on clients' mailboxes. This action is in direct response to clients' overstuffed mailboxes and the continual disk upgrades that IT departments undertake as a result. Part of the process of limiting mailbox size is to warn clients when their mailbox size is near or has exceeded the limit. If you warn clients too infrequently, they might reach their storage limit before they receive a warning. If you warn clients too frequently, they might not have a chance to clean up before the next warning message arrives. I recommend warning clients who are at the limit twice daily, once in the morning and again in the afternoon.
To set the warning messages precisely at the top of each intended hour, follow these steps:
- Open the Microsoft Exchange Administrator program.
- Select Configuration, Information Store Site Configuration for the site.
- On the Storage Warnings tab, change the Detail View to 15 Minute.
- To select only 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., click the appropriate top-of-the-hour columns.
The default Detail View is 1 Hour. However, if you use the 1 Hour view when you set the interval, users will receive a warning not only at the top of the hour but also at quarter past, half past, and quarter to the hour. Warning users this frequently might prove counterproductive.
Tracking Down an IMS Dr. Watson
My Exchange Server 5.5 SP2 computer started generating Dr. Watson errors from the Internet Mail Service (IMS—msexcimc.exe) every hour on the hour. The Dr. Watson error read: An application error has occurred and an application error log is being generated MSEXCIMC.EXE. Exception: Access Violation (oxC0000005), Address:0x0042d287.
I defragmented the three Exchange databases, reinstalled the IMS connector, reinstalled Exchange, and still I saw another Dr. Watson every hour. I tried to contact the administrator of the offending server to find out what type of message the user was trying to send, but the administrator didn't respond. Neither could I obtain the message header to find out what type of SMTP server was involved because my system crashed on every connection attempt from the server.
I called Microsoft support, and we started logging incoming and outgoing mail. We captured all the incoming and outgoing messages that the IMS processed into the \in\archive directory or \out\archive directory (you don't want to capture these messages for very long because logging the messages occupies a lot of space) and found no message with a timestamp corresponding to the Dr. Watson error.
Because the error occurred at a predictable time, we pinpointed a log entry that registered just before the error and finally found the name of the SMTP server that was sending us the connection request. An incompatibility between the format of the SMTP messages Exchange expected and those the other server generated might have caused the problem, so I inserted the server's IP address into the IMS's filtering feature to prevent any more messages from arriving. However, the offending server still made contact with the Exchange server to try to deliver some messages, which generated another Dr. Watson error. Finally, I filtered the server's IP address at our Cisco router to prevent any connection attempt, and the problem went away. I still haven't fixed the problem, but at least I've been able to avoid it.