Category Archives: Ramblings

just yapping about stuff

Skype for Business Debug Tools 7.0.1678.1

The current build of the Skype for Business Debug Tools, 7.0.1678.1 June 9 – 2017, has a lovely new requirement for yet another version of the Microsoft Visual C++.  This time it’s Visual C++ 2015 x64 version 14.0.23026 or higher.

Said version can be found here and you will want the x64 build.   After that, no problem with installation or usage, so far…

Of course now I have Visual C++ 2008 x4 versions, 2010 x2, 2012, 2013 and now 2015…

Health Agent Probes

If you were hoping for an in depth article on Skype for Business Health Agent Probes, keep on looking, you won’t find it here.  I did wrestle with one such probe failure, Event 56001 LS Health Agent.

One or more Health Agent Probes encountered an unexpected error. The component(s)/Service(s) intended to be monitored by the Probe may be functioning correctly.

Probes:  System.ServiceModel.Security.SecurityNegotiationException: Could not establish trust relationship for the SSL/TLS secure channel with authority ‘lync01.company.com’. blah blah blah.

SSL/TLS secure channel, naturally start checking the certs; nope, they’re all good.

Next, off to check IIS, maybe the certs are mixed up or something…  Opened up the Bindings for the Skype for Business External website to view the assigned cert, the port are wrong.  For some reason the External web site was assigned 80 and 443 instead of 8080 and 4443.  Internal was set to 8080 and 4443 instead of 80 and 443.  Very odd.  Joys of troubleshooting other peoples installations, and I have no idea if this was manually done or a glitch in the system somewhere along the way.

After juggling the ports around, didn’t even have restart, poof, Agent Health Probes all happy again.  Hopefully this shouldn’t be something that people encounter very often, but at least there are some clues to look at for drilling down as to why these “Health Probes” might be failing.

Update:  Published to fast.  Turned out someone messed with the Internal and External ports in the Topology.  Unfortunately just setting them back to the correct configuration isn’t enough, probably buried deep in the settings are more references to the Ports that do not update automatically when you republish.  Final resolution was to uninstall the Web Components and re-run the Deployment wizard, re-run the Server Component installation and the Certificate wizard.

Safe to say though, the Health Agent Probes are programed with the default Web site ports, changing them will likely result in probe failures.

VVX 5.5.x logon issue

I can’t take credit for this, but I document for my own future benefit as well as for the benefit of others.  A new client received a number of VVX phones which during the projects we standardized to 5.4.5 code but without a provisioning server, but that’s not important.  There were no issues with authenticating the phone with the Skype for business user account (not PIN, user account).  BUT when we went to test 5.5.1 firmware, the phones would not authenticate.  Even phones which were already authenticated prior to the update, were no longer able to sign in.

Setting the “dhcp.option43.override.stsUri” attribute of the phone, or manually setting “DHCP Option 43 Override STS-URI” setting under Settings | Provisioning Server, DHCP Menu, to the same value in DHCP Option 43, e.g. https://sfbfe01.company.com:443/CertProv/CertProvisioningService.svc  allowed the phones to perform user authentications again.

Near as I can figure, this “might” be a result of using a VLAN for the VVX and perhaps 5.5.1 code can’t properly retrieve the option 43 from DHCP, which it doesn’t have this issue 5.4.x code.  This is merely speculation.  Very odd.

 

Local SQL Services Startup issue

I’ve come across this issue a number of times over the years, rebooting a Lync or Skype server, specifically Std deployment type, and one of the three SQL Express Instances just doesn’t start up in time before the RTCSRV Frontend Service starts to start.  “Sometimes” it goes away with patching the local SQL instance up to SP2, but not often enough.  Could be a resourcing problem, but still, for a lab even, 4 processors and 8 Gb should be enough to start services up.

Enough is enough.  Why on earth what I’m about to show you isn’t done by default, is beyond me.  Why is the RTCSRV service on a Standard Edition Deployment, or for that matter on an Enterprise Deployment, though I’ve not encountered this on Enterprise Frontend Servers.

Using the SC command from an CMD Prompt (does not work from PowerShell) use the following command to make sure no other dependencies have already been made:  SC QC RTCSRV

Second last line you can see the current Dependencies, i.e. KeyIso in this case.

When modifying the dependency list, you have to include the existing, plus what ever you are wanting to add, separated by a forward slash (/).

 

sc config RtcSrv depend= KeyIso/MSSQL$LYNCLOCAL/MSSQL$RTC/MSSQL$RTCLOCAL

Re-run:  “SC QC RTCSRV”  to confirm your new dependencies have been successfully added.

Notice the change in the list of Dependencies.  You can also view this in the Services:

And if you want to get really nerdy, go into the Registry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\RtcSrv
DependOnService

I’ve found that with this change, the RTCSRV service starts up nice and clean, and instead of taking about 25 minutes before crapping out, all the services have started up within 5 minutes of initiating a normal Reboot of the server.

I haven’t had need to try this on an Enterprise Server but the command should be similar, just minus the MSSQL$RTC.

sc config RtcSrv depend= KeyIso/MSSQL$LYNCLOCAL/MSSQL$RTCLOCAL

I still install at least SP2 for SQL 2014.  There were some performance issues in RTM that were resolved around CU7 or CU8, so SP1 should be your minimum anyway, that should help speed things up.  SQL Download Table

Magic CsDatabase Command

Hopefully the use of this will be rare for most, but its come up a couple times of late and magically solved a number of glitches, hiccups and downright headaches.  I’ll save the suspense and give it to you first, then the scenario’s.

Install-CsDatabase -Update -LocalDatabases

A) I needed to add a new SIP trunk to the Topology of a Lync 2013 environment, done it a thousand times with out issue.  Unfortunately this time the databases weren’t happy or in a properly updated state as the RTCSRV service crashed after running the Deployment Wizard, which also crashed, leaving the system in an in operable state.  With similar or the same error messages below, in scenario B.  In this case the CPSDyn and RTCDyn were irreparably damaged and un-mountable.  Fortunately from past experience with Lync 2010 database updates, I knew Dyn databases can be toasted without loss of life.  CPSDyn came back no problem with the Install-CsDatabase -ConfiguredDatabases -SqlServerFqdn, but the RTCDyn database did not.  Lync 2013 had “deprecated” the use/need for the -update switch, so I didn’t even think about it and must have tried 15 other methods or variations of getting this Dyn database back.  @RealTimeUC and I both seemed to have the same divine inspiration, as I was typing, he also suggested “Try with the -Update switch”.  Low and behold, it worked.  RTCDyn database was brought back to life, and the Frontend RTCSRV service can finally start again.

B) A recent Standard Deployment of Skype for Business resulted in the starting of the RTCSRV, Call Park Server and RGS services.

LS Call Park Service Event ID 31008
Connection: Data Source=(local)\rtc;Initial Catalog=cpsdyn;Integrated Security=True
Message: Cannot open database “cpsdyn” requested by the login. The login failed.
Login failed for user ‘NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE’.

LS Response Group Service Event ID 31201
Exception: System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException – Cannot open database “rgsconfig” requested by the login. The login failed.

Login failed for user ‘NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE’.

LS User Services Event ID 32134
Back-end Database: rtcxds Connection string of:
driver={SQL Server Native Client 11.0};Trusted_Connection=yes;AutoTranslate=no;server=(local)\rtc;database=rtcxds;
Cause: Possible issues with back-end database.

I checked, and the 3 SQL Services were running (LYNCLOCAL, RTC and RTCLocal).  I also have a neat trick for these databases I’ll show in my next blog.

A coworker had seen this before and suggested using the SQL Mgmt tools and compare the permissions of the databases to a working one.

Forget that, I have a magic PS command.  I figured if it can bring back a missing database, why not correct the database permissions.  I ran the same command successfully, and the system came to life.

Summary

I don’t believe in short cuts through life, but work smarter, not necessarily harder.  PS is your friend.

Group Series Skype Meeting Join Issue

I would like to think I had a pretty darn good OCS/Lync mentor when I started transitioning from mainly an Exchange focus to more with actual Unified Communications.  One of his mantra’s, “If you set things up right, they just work”, case in point, Polycom’s Group Series.

Client/users were complaining that they were having troubles joining scheduled Skype for Business meetings from the console.  They were experiencing odd voice messages like “That number is not in service”, “That call can not be completed as dialed”, or just ring 1-2 dozen times and disconnect…  Yup, that ain’t right, and yes, those very much sound like PSTN dialing issues.

This is exactly why you deploy Monitor Reports.  Pulling up the activity for the meeting room in question, one can see that the GS500 in this case was in fact dialing the Skype Conference ID’s, some were 6 digit and some were 7, making a phone number that either didn’t normalize at all, or managed to resolve to International dialing rules.

Eventually the user has learned to just drag the GS device in to the meeting, which is the case in row 3 above.

Client was running version 6.0, and both 6.0 and 6.1 are supported with Skype for Business.  We provided the client with James Arber’s post for setting up Group Series devices.  It’s more about 5.x version, but most of the settings are still relevant.

In the scenario we were troubleshooting, Skype for Business was running CU272, but looking at the history of the devices, this behaviour was not recent and occurred with previous CU’s.  Updating the GS to 6.1 did not resolve the issue.

The critical setting that was required to make the system work was under Admin Settings | Network | Dialing Preference, and specifically the Voice and Video Dialing order.  Here the client had left it defaulted to H.323 instead of changing to SIP.  Changing this setting on other systems still running 6.0 didn’t have the desired affect, 6.1 and prioritizing SIP seems to be the magic trick here.  This environment also had no Gatekeepers or RMX type systems, strictly a Skype for Business environment, otherwise you may need to test out various scenarios if you are running a combined environment.

Group Series updates can be found here:  http://support.polycom.com/content/support/North_America/USA/en/support/video/group_series.html

 

Shared Line Appearance and SimRing

This would be my own version of a “Fast Publish”, and haven’t fully tested out all the different scenario’s, so provide feedback if you like.

A client was experimenting with with Skype’s Shared Line Appearance (SLA) and was experiencing a problem where the shared line would ring once and go straight to voice mail of the -Target.  In this particular scenario, the -Target was also a Delegate, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

After checking 82 other things, I then installed the Skype Resource Kit, configured Sefautil and pulled out Johan’s SefaUtil GUI script, and reviewed the settings of the delegates.  Turned out that the Target had their SimRing enabled.  As soon as it was off, SLA worked as expected.

A scenario I’ll have to try some time, is there the same issue when just a Delegate has SimRing enabled.  I don’t beleive this will be the case.

I do suspect that the Target object will not be able to use Call Forwarding either.

Jabra Updates

Jabra has had a couple of updates of late for Jabra Direct, the software for managing Jabra endpoints on your desktop and updating firmware’s.  The one in March had a minor update with the Avaya Equinox 3.0 addition to the softphone list.  The other one in January was definitely of more interest:  Release Notes:

  • Preferred Software Settings e.g. Evolve80 for Skype for Business, Jabra 510 for Skype
  • Support for Noise at Works standards for Evolve and Stealth’s for providing additional noise protection.
    • Basic PeakStop protection against sound spikes
    • IntelliTone average daily audio exposure
    • Australian acoustic safety guideline (G.616)

I have not had any firmware update issues in the last couple of years.  I never bricked any before, but sure came close on the older software and models.  Still kind of miss my Biz 2400, hopefully my past customers/users are still happy with that model too.

Currently I enjoy an Evolve 80.  While a little on the heavy side and crushes my hair, the sound is phenomenal for noise cancellation and music.  You do need the Jabra Direct software to enable Optimize audio for Music mode.  IF you haven’t updated the firmware on your Evolve 40/80, you definitely want to.  There was a noticeable improvement in the Dec 2016 3.0.0 update with the audio.  I had the occasional pop, and a low end static.  Probably most people might not have noticed, but my bat-ears did.

Oh look a bird…  I remember one day getting unusually irritated at work, couldn’t figure out why.  I leaned back to try and calm myself and gather my head.  I then realized that my laptop was emitting and high pitched ennnnnnnnnnnnnnnh sound, kind of like the most annoying sound in the world as performed by Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber.  No one else could hear it, but I could.  I started turning things off, and ended up turning of my Bluetooth.  Bingo.  Wth.  I can hear water dripping in another part of my house, someone touching the thermostat, and electronics dying apparently.  Drives my wife nuts what my ears are tuned into.

March 8, 2017 firmware 3.1.0 was released for 40/80’s.  Enjoying it right now, zero complaints.

Other recent updates that I could find:

  • Speak 810 – 2017/01/25 v1.4
    • Improved microphone performance
    • minor bug fixes
  • Stealth – 2016/12/09 v1.29
    • Fixed an issue where the LED in some cases did not turn on when charging
  • Evolve 65 – 2016/12/12 v2.0
    • Feature and stability improvements

 

 

SpectraLink 84-Series Update

Spectralink appears to be putting in a concerted effort to stay in the game, so to speak, releasing a new firmware two days ago for their Spectralink 84-Series.  Of course they are the only wireless handset in the Skype/Lync realm these days.  The 3 most recent firmware releases have been Skype for Business focused, though there isn’t any specific color branding and the “Base Profile” is still Lync, but under Contacts it does say Sfb Contacts.

With previous builds I had problems with two-way audio when using the 2.4 Ghz WiFi band, that issue appears to be gone for me with 5.2.2.1128.  Both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands are working great now, with naturally longer range on 2.4 band.

Calendaring functionality with Exchange Online appears to be working well, so it does working somewhat with Office 365.  Currently I do not have a Skype Online account to test against for full Office 365 compatibility.  The Solutions Catalog does not list the device as Office 365 supported but that last validation check appears to be in 2013, but at least Voice Mail and Calendar integration with Exchange Online works well and an on premises Skype for Business deployment.

There have been a number of changes which can be found in the Release Notes, but most notably are listed below:

  • DND can be removed from menus
  • Implement new alternative ICE stack into 84xx replacing previous implementation with confirmed equivalent functionality between ICE stacks
  • Corporate Directory Refresh corrected when Contacts entries update their Presence
  • updated to clarify Contact/Call List menu options (Local/SfB/Corporate/Call Lists)
  •  SimRing to PSTN prevents call transfer (Corrected)
  • SRTP/RTP No Audio when have SimRing enabled (Corrected)
  • No call to series connected RGS Workflows (Corrected)
  • Ability to turn off backlight of display when in charger

I think my only wish list item would be to disable the IM functionality, and have it just be a wireless Skype phone.

Eye Care

So a bit of a diversion off the usual technical track that I felt like sharing about, eye care.  I’m sure there are a few people who are reading this blog that have been in front of a computer screen longer than I, 20+ years, but for you juniors who are just coming into the industry, I can’t stress this enough, take care of your eye’s.

Recently I came back from vacation, having been away from a screen and down in the bright sun of Mexico for a week.  I was mainly wearing my Ray Ban, polarize, prescription sunglasses and sat down in front of my 3 LED screens, and fairly quickly my eyes started to hurt.  My shades were handy, so I put them on for a bit to see if that would help.  It did.  With some perspective, I do wear glasses all the time and I have that Crizal Prevencia anti-glare coating/blue blocking, it blows.  I personally will not get this brand of anti-glare again.

I’m one of those “nut jobs” who wears their sunglasses when it’s pouring rain or a snow blizzard when driving, cause yes, you most definitely can see farther and also not suffer from eye fatigue near as much when having to drive under adverse conditions.  Use your brain though, dark is dark,  wearing your sunglasses at night makes you a douche.

I also could not stand using those old CRT screens (pre-LED, pre-LCD for you noobs) running at 60 Hz, the flickering drove me nuts.  I only lost the flicker at 80 or higher.

Oh look a bird…  Anyway, the polarized lens really helped looking at the screen, but this isn’t really a viable solution.  I started to look around and came across this Ted Talk on how technology is killing our eyes, which led me to IRIS Mini.  Iris isn’t the only product around, this page here lists a number of them including SunsetScreen, f.lux, Redshift, PC SunScreen and G.lux.

I am not a reseller, just sharing my experience.  Iris Mini is all that I am using.  It adjusts the color temp and brightness of my monitor relative to my location (latitude mainly), time of year and time of day.  Through out the day the color temp changes, significantly before sunrise and after sunset.  The difference has been significant and remarkable, significantly lowering eye stress and strain.

Not saying that this will solve world hungry, but for the last month my eyes have felt great even after a long day of computer geeking.

Additional eye and desk tips:

  • Stretch your eyes, regularly look at something more than 50 feet away and different lighting levels
  • Blink
  • Regular eye exams
  • in dry climates, find a good quality eye drop
  • Find your comfortable focal distance and setup your desk accordingly.  Typically in the 20-40 inch range, with a good viewing angle.  An arms’ length can be an easy guide.
  • Apply good sitting posture, bad posture strains everything
  • Use a mouse that fits your hand.  I have a RAT7 just so I can make it large enough for my hands
  • Ergonomic keyboard.  I’m 6’4 and wider then any keyboard.  Smurfs out there may not need anything other than a normal keyboard, they can keep their elbows in enough, I can not.  I’m actually on my 2nd MS Natural 4000, I’ve tried a few other, but the 4000 has been the best thing for me for the past 17 years now.
  • Get out of your chair, walk the dog, climb some stairs, get the heart moving.

Healthy Computing link for more useful tips.