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Java’s been updated again. For the fifth time this year.

Seriously, Java and Flash and Acrobat have been updated so many times this year, you could almost make a drinking game out of it. Java is on update number five for the year, and it’s only the first week of March.

Of course, if you uninstalled Java, you don’t have to worry about 0-day vulnerabilities or the patches that come afterward to prevent them. If you installed Secunia PST, you don’t have to worry about the updates; they come down automatically. The ideal thing is to do both.

Using Robocopy to root out PST files

So the word came out that the office is migrating to Windows 7 at some yet-to-be-determined time, but soon. It’s in testing now. (Too bad they didn’t recruit me as part of the testing team, because breaking Windows 7 is one of my superpowers.)

We’ve been told to back up our data. Lots of people are paranoid that they’ll lose their Outlook PST files, and with it, their ability to do top-drawer work. Frequently we have to search our archives to find forgotten details about old projects. It helps to make the new projects go more smoothly.

I came up with a surprisingly easy solution. It doesn’t even require admin rights–which is good. I won’t elaborate.
Read More »Using Robocopy to root out PST files

Outlook send button is gone? Here’s the fix.

“My Outlook send button is gone,” one of my coworkers told me. Microsoft wasn’t much help. The relevant knowledge base articles said the e-mail account not being configured causes that problem. Except it was. He could receive and read mail just fine, he just couldn’t send anything out.

Ultimately we ended up deleting his mail profile to fix the missing send button.Read More »Outlook send button is gone? Here’s the fix.

Oh yeah. I have a Web site.

You ask me how I am
And all I can say is I still exist…
–lyrical snippet I wrote in 1997

Yep, I’m hacked off and moody, and when I get this way, it’s best if I say little more than yeah, I still exist. I know I won’t regret saying or writing that.

BBQ. I know I cut way back on my red meat intake–I may have managed to eat none at all in October, I’m not sure–but I have this fantasy of moving back to Kansas City, buying a house next door to Gates BBQ–no relation to that scumbag Billy Gates in Seattle–setting up an expense account, and eating BBQ three meals a day. BBQ for breakfast? Don’t dis it until you’ve tried it. But make sure it’s real BBQ. Here in St. Louis, restaurants tend to do Memphis-style BBQ, which is where you cook the meat without sauce until it’s good and dried out, then you splash some spicy sauce on it and call it BBQ. Kansas Citians know real BBQ is cooked long, slow, and in sauce. It adds a little flavor and keeps the meat from drying out as much.

Gates three times a day. Sounds like a great solution to any problem. Or at least a nice distraction.

Music. I’ve been listening to a CD my sister sent me by a band called claas-p.jambor. I know nothing about them, because their Web site xeptional.com is a Flash site and I’ve removed that blight from all my PCs, permanently. (Now if I can just get them to quit prompting me for the plugin…) Well, I do know this: Their music is awesome. Ever listen to a CD, then come to a song that makes you just stop the disc and put that song on repeat play for a couple of hours? “Open Skies” is one of those songs. I know I’m not the only one like that: when Beavis and Butthead saw a video they really liked, they said MTV should just play that video over and over. Beavis and Butthead wouldn’t like claas-p.jambor though. Too punky, and they’re Christian.

But three-chord Christian punk seems to be just what I’ve been looking for.

Blogging. Dan Bowman sent me a link to a site that looks promising. If you like it when I go off on my non-computer tangents, you’ll probably find him interesting. If you wonder what it’s like to be a Catholic priest, or a former Catholic priest, you’ll probably like it. He’s only been at it for a week or so. I like him. He shoots straight, makes me think, and holds just enough back to keep an aura about him. I think he’s more enigmatic than I am.

Effective e-mail communication. I guess I have to do a little computer stuff, huh? Here’s a snippet from a piece of e-mail I sent this morning, to someone who’s about to attend a seminar on effective communications:

“Dave’s rule #1: Make sure what you’re trying to communicate will actually be delivered. Therefore, you should avoid Outlook at all costs.”

To which he responded, Outlook is effective for sending mail bombs, viruses, Powerpoint presentations and Flash animations. I’m sure it transmits Anthrax just fine too. But I’ve had three, maybe even four people have Outlook just flat die in the past week. The answer is sometimes to run nfclean.exe and scanpst.exe. Sometimes I have to delete the user’s NT profile and import their PST. Sometimes I have to completely reinstall.

I hate Outlook. I hate Windows. And I can’t have another Amiga.

Give me Unix or give me death.

All day I couldn’t wait ’til Tuesday…

First, a diversion. I came home, popped in Peter Murphy’s Deep, which I’d never listened to, and I called a friend. An hour later all was well with the world. Well, not really. But Dave’s world was fine.
And Deep… It starts off with a really dark, brooding song, but when you listen to the lyrics it sounds like a love song. A goth love song? Huh? So I looked at the lyrics. I think the song is really about going swimming. I love that kind of irony. I need to make a mix CD:

Not Love Songs
1. Drive — The Cars (about mental illness)
2. The One I Love — R.E.M. (about a barbecue joint)
3. Cruel Summer — Bananarama (not a breakup song–it’s about a hot beach)
4. Deep Ocean Vast Sea — Peter Murphy (sounds like a love song but it’s about going swimming)

I’m sure there are others. I need to go find them.

Work. Yesterday was my first day supporting a new client. And wouldn’t you know it? After we led off the morning with a visit from SirCam in one of the finance departments, the hard drive in the PC sitting in the president of the company’s office conked out. You turn it on and it sounds like a jackhammer. If you let the drive rest for a while, you can operate it for anywhere from 1-2 minutes before it completely stops responding. So I connected the president’s drive to another system and started copying data, a few files at a time. Finally I wised up and optimized the box I was using, while the president’s drive rested. I defragmented the destination drive, and I set the system to load absolutely nothing at startup. It’s NT, so it takes about a minute to boot, but at least I can get about a minute’s worth of copying per hour.

But I just realized I’ve got a P3-866 with a nice 7200 RPM disk in it sitting on the desk, waiting to be rebuilt. I think I need to draft that machine into data recovery duty first. That machine might boot in under 30 seconds, especially with nothing loading at startup. That’d make me at least 50% more productive. I still haven’t recovered his PST file, and that’s what concerns me the most. We’ve gotta get his e-mail back, whatever it takes.

I seem to attract problems like this. At least I have a decent record of solving them. (And yes, I do know the trick of putting a hard drive in the freezer for four hours–I won’t do it this time because the drive is under warranty.)

And in the meantime, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This might as well be like a chance to hit a grand slam to win the World Series.