David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

November 15th, 2007 at 2:56 pm Print This Post Print This Post

ActiveSync Error with Treo and Exchange Direct Push

I finally took the plunge and upgraded VersaMail on my Treo 650 to version 3.5 (the default is 3.1), for $9.99. This upgrade adds several features, the biggest being the ability to sync Contacts over-the-air in addition to Email and Calendar when using an Exchange ActiveSync account, and Direct Push so you receive immediate notifications of new items (like incoming email) from the Exchange server. You can also now search the Exchange Global Address List when sending an email from the Treo! I had decided not to upgrade when the new VersaMail version came out because some people were reporting stability issues, but these seem to be better after applying the EAS Update available from Palm (for $2.99, still a ripoff for a patch, but it’s inexpensive enough that I’m willing to be ripped off) that must be installed after the VersaMail upgrade. The update fixes some Direct Push issues.

While I was at it, I threw in the VersaMail 3.5 EAS Meeting Invitation Update for good measure, just in case I needed it (and it was free!). I got all the updates available, basically; I must be used to Windows Updates where you should install it all, just in case it closes a huge gaping security hole or fixes something you don’t care enough about to research every time :-)

Everything went much more smoothly than expected! I installed VersaMail 3.5, installed and applied the updates, and did a sync. After the first sync, I was able to modify my account preferences to specify that I wanted to be notified “As items arrive,” which enables Direct Push.

So far, so good. Except that several minutes later, I hear my “New Mail Alert” sound and the message I get says, “EAS Account: Please press the Sync button.” Well, that’s fun. I go from email every 30 minutes to an annoying notice to manually “automatically” sync every five minutes! What is this? A Microsoft-like “improvement” from Palm?! Oh no! Things like “I wonder what would happen if I threw this phone through the window” started to go through my mind, but instead of following through with that I reverted to my backup plan:

Must…use…Google. Which I did, and I found this thread on the Palm forums that sounded like a broken record of my problem (not helpful) until I got to the last reply in the thread (which was helpful!). It had links to a blog entry from You Had Me At EHLO about Direct Push and Heartbeats, where, right there under list item 3 under the heading “Deployment Considerations for Direct Push” (I know, so easy to find in such a “short” entry :-) it talks about firewall connection timeouts with a link to an MSKB article (the same one the forum post linked to): 905013, Enterprise firewall configuration for Exchange ActiveSync Direct Push Technology. It’s reasonably short and sweet, and they’re kind enough to include step-by-step instructions for making the needed configuration change to our ISA 2004 firewall. Seriously, the instructions are so good and easy, I won’t even repeat them here. Click, click, click, type numbers, click, click, Apply, done. Or something like that.

I initiated a manual sync again to establish the connection with the new timeout values, and waited. Fifteen minutes later, no sign of the EAS Account error message! And now I get new emails popping up on my Treo usually before they show up in Outlook, whether connected via Cached Exchange Mode or not! Time will tell how good of a thing this actually is, but the concept is excellent!