There’s an App for that!

Progress. Innovation. One small step for man. Call it what you will but the advancement of software usually comes at a price with some bumps along the way. Apple, while a good company that puts out a good product, is mortal like the rest of us and as such is subject to the same development bumps and bruises. That was my experience this week when an executive assistant at one of our clients came to me in a panicked state saying “Help! I just sent out a meeting invite to over 30 executives and it keeps sending the invitation over and over and over again! People are getting upset!” [more]

Immediately I put together a lineup of potential offenders and began working my way through:

  1. Exchange message queues
  2. Online spam filter reinjection
  3. Notification of meeting change/update
  4. Corrupt/Malformed meeting event
  5. Possible wrong address in the list (we’ve seen this happen before) 
  6. MAPI profile/client issues.

Troubleshooting:

  1. An inspection of the Exchange queues revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and the Exchange logs showed that each repeated meeting request appeared to be a new/separate message that was being received (and dutifully sent out) by the Exchange server. Nope, that’s not it.
  2. Online spam filter reinjection into Exchange was not a possibility since every recipient was internal… the spam service never saw the message. Innocent.
  3. Since the same meeting was supposedly being re-sent, I thought that it may be possible that the meeting would re-send whenever a user would update/respond to/propose a new meeting time for the calendar event. After looking at the executive assistant’s sent items as well as the inboxes of several attendees, none of this was true… the meetings were actually being re-sent. Strike three. 
  4. Thinking that there may be some oddity in the meeting event such as a reoccurring event, I had the user delete the meeting then recreate it while I watched. I noticed the user used a distribution list when inviting attendees.
  5. Some of our engineers have seen some quirks when using a distribution list with incorrect/invalid email addresses. I had the user recreate the distribution list from scratch, populating it only by clicking on addresses in the Global Address List. Re-created the meeting with new distribution list. Same behavior.
  6. Thinking that the problem may be a MAPI profile issue due to the Exchange logs indicating that each message was a separate submission from the client, I went to the user’s office to rebuild their MAPI profile. In doing so I realized that the user was on a thin client. Before building her Terminal Server MAPI profile I asked the user what time she had left the previous day. She said she left right at 5:00pm and had logged off of the Terminal Server at that time. The last meeting that was resent went out at 5:14pm. Hmmm…

Solution:

At this point I had seemingly ruled out the client aspect as well as the server aspect of the problem, what could be left? Blackberry! I asked the executive assistant if she had a Blackberry, thinking that surely the Blackberry Enterprise Server was the guilty party since the problem was happening when she was logged out. “No, I don’t have a Blackberry… a couple of months ago I got an iPhone instead.” At this point I was getting desperate so I asked her to power off her phone for the remaining 6 hours of the workday. Magically not a single meeting invite was sent out. After that I asked her to power it on. Immediately a repeated meeting invite was sent! I asked her if anything had changed on her phone recently to which she replied ,”actually, I just upgraded my phone this weekend to the new 3.0 iPhone OS”. A quick Google confirmed that other users who had upgraded to the 3.0 Apple iPhone OS and had sent meeting requests to a distribution groups had experienced the same problem. A call to Apple support yielded no help as a “Product Specialist” (referred to as “iPhone Ninjas” by Apple Tier 1 support, no joke) told me that they don’t have any record of that happening to anyone else, call Microsoft since it’s an Exchange account.  So, until iPhone OS 3.1, it looks like users will not be able to use distribution groups when creating meeting requests. Isn’t there an App for that?

Networking Exchange Apple Outlook iPhone