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May 26, 2005

My Declining Home Connectivity

A while ago I blogged about the cool technology I could use to connect from home. Only problem is the technology has mostly crapped out in recent months.

First I mysteriously lost the ability to RAS in from home. One day it worked, the next day it didn't. When you RAS in you are basically on the corporate network, so you can look at the bug database, check files in and out from source control, view internal websites, read email, etc. I called Microsoft helpdesk to try to debug it, but they didn't have much to suggest except that my DSL provider had decided to block such-and-such port. Who knows, maybe they were right. I never bothered to investigate more.

Mostly because I could still run email from home using RPC-over-HTTP. The main thing I usually want to do on weekends is keep up with email. So full RAS is usually not needed. RCP-over-HTTP worked fine until we moved to an Exchange "dogfood" server. A dogfood server means my Exchange server is an alpha version of Exchange 12. Microsoft believes in "eating your own dogfood", so for Exchange this means moving users over--by the time Exchange 12 ships, the whole company will probably be on it. The email server itself works fine, and RPC-over-HTTP was supposed to work fine, except it doesn't. Helpdesk didn't know what was going on either.

So now I am reduced to running Outlook Web Access. OWA actually works pretty well, and dogfood Exchange supports it. Except I discovered the other day that when I compose email, "Send" doesn't work. So I can read email, but I can't send any.

I suppose I should look into why OWA is broken, since occasionally I do need to respond to urgent email from home. I seem to be getting along fine without the other stuff however.

Posted by AdamBa at May 26, 2005 10:16 PM

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Maybe this is a dumb question but are you sure your smartcard works?

Posted by: anonymous at May 27, 2005 01:22 AM

I just read about the cool technology. I am very supriced to see that you consider this something new. Some time ago, a friend of mine had setuped an email & imap server that had same characteristics. It even had web interface.(no voice thought;)
All email clients can use imap, most of them can use ssl-imap too.
Using RPC sound like overkill. It is like inventing an square wheel that would work only on your road:


Posted by: Ivan at May 27, 2005 01:59 AM

One day my OWA worked great. The next day, I could read but not send. I can hobble along if I check 'basic' when I log in. At least I can send. Redmond Exchange but not dogfood server... Yet.

Posted by: Susan dennis at May 27, 2005 12:56 PM

Anon, I am pretty sure my smartcard still works. I know the "it just stopped working" might indicate something like that, but at the time when I tried to debug it (which was a while ago) I recall that the error I got did not seem to indicate that kind of problem.

What I really should do is take my laptop to a place with free Wi-Fi and try it there. Hmm, now I may just be inspired enough to do that--to generate more blog content if nothing else. See, blogging is good for you!

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at May 27, 2005 03:28 PM

>One day it worked, the next day it didn't

Also, its not clear which part fails and what kind of error msg you get. Is the authentication failing? Does it even prompt you for your smartcard?

I would try a couple of other RAS points (charlotte, las colinas, etc). Another thing to try is to grab a smart card reader, and install it on your work machine and then try logging into your work machine using your smartcard.
If all else fails, your system event logs should also give some clue as to whats failing under the hood?

Posted by: anonymous at May 28, 2005 07:31 PM

Mr. Mouse: Back then the authentication was failing, now it connects but disconnects me shortly after (see more recent article). This is after the smartcard PIN entry.

I will try some other RAS points.

I checked the event log and it's got nothing useful (just events saying I connect and then disconnected).


- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at May 28, 2005 11:25 PM

Wow, thats interesting - so if I'm understanding this correctly, the authentication succeeds and it appears like you've established a connection but then it disconnects you shortly after?

I wonder if it could be a missing update or patch? Try downloading the MBSA tool (the patch scanning tool) and run that in verbose mode. It will give you a nice report including details on any fileversion mismatches that it finds.

Next other thing I'd suggest is trying to connect via another ISP at someone else's house(if this is a desktop I guess you can't do this)

Posted by: anonymous at May 29, 2005 02:38 AM