Microsoft Office 2007 and missing paper size options.

Today I solved a strange problem involving Microsoft Office 2007 and missing paper size options that should have been available to the user. This problem had been particularly difficult to fix simply because we had a hard time replicating it.

The Scenario

A user has access to multiple network printers to include a copy machine. The copy machine has a paper size that isn’t available or supported on the other printers, in this case it happens to be ledger paper “11 x 17″. The user opens a spreadsheet in Excel and prepares to print the document to ledger paper by first changing the paper size with Page Layout -> Size -> Ledger 11″ x 17″ from the ribbon bar.  Sometimes ledger size was available and sometimes it wasn’t even after selecting the  More Paper Sizes… option.

The Problem

The problem makes sense when you consider the assumptions Microsoft Office makes in an effort to increase usability by limiting the amount of information users have to deal with.  In this case Office is trying to show you only relevant options for paper sizes, but relevant to what? Relevant to the last used printer. Now the users, myself included, assumed that any paper size that could be printed on any of the available printers would be shown, but this isn’t the case.  Only paper sizes that can be printed on the current printer are shown.

The Fix

To find your missing paper size options you have to at least select the printer from a print dialog.  One way to do this is by clicking Office button -> Print , selecting the appropriate printer from the drop-down menu (a printer that can print to this size of paper), an the selecting the Close button. When you go back to the Page Layout -> Size your missing paper sizes will have returned.

… you know what they say about assumptions.

VMWare, ESXi, Scripting, and fault.RestrictedVersion.summary

My clients are generally small businesses and have limited budgets, myself included. I’ve virtualized my own infrastructure entirely and have started doing so for clients as well using the freely available version of ESXi. I am continually frustrated and disappointed with the write access restriction when scripting from PowerCli or similar. If you have seen this error,  ”fault.RestricedVersion.summary”, you most likely are as well… or at least you will be when you realize how much you actually can’t do with this restriction in place.

As an acceptable, zero cost, scripting solution I am now enabling SSH access on new ESXi installs.  As a reminder ( you can find this all over the internet ) here’s how you do it with ESXi 4.0.

  • At the physical console of the ESXi machine press ALT + F1.
  • Type “unsupported”. This will not echo.
  • Enter your root password.
  • Make changes to the inetd.conf by typing “vi /etc/inetd.conf”. Scroll down using the arrow keys until you reach the section containing SSH. Uncomment them both (remove teh #) and save the file by entering “:wq” .
  • Get the process id of inetd with “pidof inetd”.
  • Restart inetd “kill -HUP [PID]“.  Make sure to replace [PID] with the number output by the previous command.
  • Log out of Tech Support Mode by typing “exit”.
  • Press ALT+F2 to return the standard ESXi console.
  • SSH should now be active; test from another machine.

and in ESXi 4.1 it’s even easier

  • Again at the physical console press F2 to customize the System.
  • Login at the prompt.
  • Select “Troubleshooting Options” from the menu.
  • Select “Enable Remote Tech Support (SSH)”.
  • Test from another machine.

Remotely access a Dell service tag.

Sometimes it’s the little things that get you when working on client’s servers and workstations remotely.

You need a Dell service tag that doesn’t show up in the usual places such as “My Computer” -> “Properties” or can’t be detected by the Dell web based support ( ActiveX if I recall correctly).   What do you do?  Try this! Open a console window and type in “wmic bios get serialnumber” at the prompt. Your Dell service tag will be returned for you viewing pleasure.

A simple solution to a sometimes not so simple problem.