Internet Speed Tests

Quick links to recommended Internet speed testing tools:

Ookla Speedtest
http://www.speedtest.net/

The following sites provide more in-depth testing of your bandwidth:

Megapath Speed Test Plus
http://www.megapath.com/speedtestplus/ (requires Java)

ISP-specific speed testing sites:

Speakeasy Speed Test (MegaPath) – can be used with other ISPs as well
http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

XFINITY Speed Test (Comcast)
http://speedtest.comcast.net/

Windows Malware Removal Tools

Here is my recommended list of utilities for removing malware from a Windows computer. All of these tools are free although some may require you to register to download. None of these tools provide any real-time protection. For that, you’ll send to use a separate free or paid anti-virus/anti-malware client or service.

Top Malware Removal Tools

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
https://www.malwarebytes.org/antimalware/

AdwCleaner (Free)
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/

Rootkit Removal Tools
Here are some useful rootkit removal tools for dealing with difficult to remove malware and viruses:

Kaspersky Lab’s TDSSKiller
http://usa.kaspersky.com/downloads/TDSSKiller (requires registration)
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/tdsskiller/ (no registration required)

Norton Power Eraser
https://security.symantec.com/nbrt/npe.aspx

Trend Micro Rootkit Buster
http://www.trendmicro.com/download/rbuster.asp

Sophos Rootkit Removal
http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-anti-rootkit.aspx (requires registration)

Server 2012 R2 Windows Update Error 8024402C

Problem

Received error 8024402C when attempting to run Windows Update on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2.

Solution

Issuing the following commands in a cmd prompt using the “Run as administrator” option resolved the issue:

wuauclt /detectnow
wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow
wuauclt /reportnow

Note that no messages were displayed after issuing each of these commands.

Server 2012 R2 Cluster Shared Volume Rename Issue

As some of you may already know, Windows allows you to rename the mounted volume links in the C:\ClusterStorage folder on each node of a Windows fail-over cluster to anything you’d like. Windows will even make the same corresponding change to the mounted volume links on all other nodes in the same cluster. What Windows won’t do, however, is update the paths to any virtual hard disks currently in use by any running VM, including highly available VMs. Obviously, this can create a problem for any VMs currently configured to use a VHD on the renamed cluster shared volume. It’s not an issue which Windows will warn you about nor one that will cause any running VMs to crash, but the next time you try to restart that VM or live migrate it to another node, the VM will crash and fail to restart on any node.

iDRAC 7 Login Issue

Recently ran into an issue with the iDRAC 7 remote access controller in a Dell PowerEdge T620. After updating the firmware from 1.35.35 to 1.56.55, I could no longer log in. After entering a valid user name and password, the web interface would start to load and then kick me right back to the login screen. I was logging in at the time using the IPv4 address of the iDRAC. Switching to using the DNS name of the iDRAC allowed me to log in. It turns out that Dell recommends clearing the cache in your browser whenever you make a major update to the iDRAC firmware. Sure enough, once I cleared the cache, I was able to log in again using the IPv4 address.

LastPass Login Dialog Fails to Open with Browser

I recently ran into an issue with LastPass and Chrome after moving to a new computer. I chose not to migrate my old Windows user profile and settings to this new computer as I wanted to start over with a clean slate. One issue that I ran into early on was that I couldn’t get the LastPass login dialog to automatically appear each time I launched Chrome despite having selected the “Open login dialog when browser starts” option under the LastPass Advanced settings. With the help of a LastPass support technician, we determined that the issue was caused by a Chrome process running in the background. The default behavior of Chrome is to run in the background to support background pages and apps. I resolved the issue by right-clicking on the Chrome icon in my system tray and de-selecting the option to “Let Google Chrome run in the background.” The next time that I launched Chrome, the LastPass login dialog window appeared.

Cancelling or Downgrading FreedomPop

FreedomPop is a relatively new player in the wireless market offering “free” Internet access. The amount of free Internet access they offer is rather paltry — just 500 MB per month for their mobile hot spots and up to 1 GB on their home Internet plans. You’ll likely find that these free allocations aren’t enough to meet your needs which is why FreedomPop constantly tries to upsell you on more expensive plans. Just be forewarned that upgrading your service or signing up for new features is super easy — all of it can be done quite easily on their website — while downgrading or cancelling service requires a phone call to their customer support department. If you try calling their customer support number (888) 701-1353, you’ll likely get a recording stating that they are experiencing an “unusually high call volume.” Before you know it, you’ll be waiting hours just for someone to answer.

Your better bet would be to use their call back option. Just dial the support number 1 (888) 701-1353 then press 2, 2, and 1 to request a call back. You’ll be given the option to confirm the number you wish them to call or enter an alternate call back number. Apparently, FreedomPop gives priority to call back numbers even over customers who are waiting on hold. I’ve waited over an hour on hold without ever getting through to anyone while I usually get a call back within 15 to 20 minutes.

Changing the Signature Title on QuickBooks DE9 Forms

Our company uses QuickBooks Online for all of our accounting and payroll. It’s a pretty useful service but I can honestly say that it’s particularly easy-to-use. Recently, I noticed that the title on our California DE 9 form — that’s the California Employment Development Department’s Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages form — was out-of-date. Unfortunately, QuickBooks just gives us two options when reviewing this form: View or Submit. After a lot of searching and trial-and-error, I stumbled upon the location where QuickBooks stores the title appearing on these forms. It’s not under the Employees tab or under Company –> Manage Users where you might expect it, rather, QuickBooks saves the title and contact information for all electronically submitted payroll and tax forms under Employees –> Payroll Setup –> Contact Information. The contact information appearing on all of the forms is pulled from the Primary Contract section. Not exactly the first place I would have thought of looking but at least I eventually found it.

Manually Increase Office 365 Mailbox Limit

Microsoft announced a few months ago that the mailbox size limit would be doubled for all new and existing Office 365 customers by the end of November 2013. Standard mailboxes would be increased from 25 to 50 GBs while shared mailboxes would be increased from 5 to 10 GBs. However, it’s already the last day of November and I noticed that none of my client’s mailbox size limits had been increased. It turns out that Microsoft is in no hurry to roll this out and is hoping to upgrade all existing customers by the end of the year. You can, however, manually increase the size limit on a mailbox by using the following PowerShell commands:

For user mailboxes:
Get-Mailbox -RecipientTypeDetails UserMailbox | Set-Mailbox -ProhibitSendQuota 49.75GB -ProhibitSendReceiveQuota 50GB -IssueWarningQuota 49.50GB

For shared mailboxes:
Get-Mailbox -RecipientTypeDetails SharedMailbox | Set-Mailbox -ProhibitSendQuota 9.75GB -ProhibitSendReceiveQuota 10GB -IssueWarningQuota 9.50GB

The Microsoft support technician I spoke to today assured me that manually increasing the size limit shouldn’t create any issues. So you can either continue waiting for Microsoft to get around to upgrading your mailboxes or you can try using the PowerShell scripts provided above.

Nexus 5 Encryption Issue

I ran into a curious issue when trying to encrypt my new Nexus 5 phone. Even when using a PIN and starting with a fully charged phone, each time I tried to enable encryption, the phone would immediately reboot but then nothing would happen. Several users on various forums managed to get their new Nexus to encrypt after repeated tries but I wasn’t having any such luck. Another user suggested trying again while using the AC adapter which came with the phone. This time, it worked! Somehow the phone detected that I wasn’t using the stock AC adapter when I tried to enable encryption earlier. On the other hand, it would have been nice to see an error message instructing me to do just that rather than leaving people stuck with phones that won’t encrypt.