Tuesday, December 23, 2008

OS X - Repair disk errors like invalid node structure

If you're an OS X user you may have run into a problem like this before. When you power on the machine it just sits on the Apple logo screen but won't get any further. Other boot up problems may be fixed by this as well. If you try to boot from the install CD and run disk utility to repair permissions or repair the disk, you may get an error such as invalid node structure or something similar that will cause the repair to fail. One solution to this is to reformat the hard drive, reinstall the OS, and then reinstall all the programs. This is time consuming, and you'll lose all of your data if it hasn't been backed up. Instead, there's something else to try that could solve the problem and you won't have to worry about reinstalling anything. You can manually run the Apple file system consistency check (fsck) and have it repair errors it finds. To do this you'll need an OS X install disk, which you should have gotten with the computer.

1. Put the install disk in the computers CD/DVD drive
2. Restart the computer
3. When it comes back on, hold down the C key on the keyboard to force it to boot from the CD
4. Once it gets to the point where the Apple logo is on the screen and the progress spinner has appeared and is moving underneath the logo, you can release the C key.
5. It will ask you which language you want to use, so select your language choice and continue
6. Don't continue with the installation from this point on. Instead, on the menu at the top I believe there is an entry for "Utilities" (or something like that). Click on it and go to Disk Utility. If that's not where it is, check the other menu options until you can find it
7. When Disk Utility opens, click on the hard drive partition that has the operating system installed, then click on Unmount at the top
8. Close Disk Utility
9. Go back into the "Utilities" menu (or wherever you had found Disk Utility) and open up the Terminal application
10. Enter the command diskutil list and press Enter. This will list all the partitions on the computer. You're looking for the name of the partition that contains the operating system files, which will most likely be disk0s2 or disk0s3. I think the defaults may be disk0s2 for Intel Macs, and disk0s3 for PPC Macs, but I'm not sure if that's correct which is why you should use the diskutil program to find it
11. Once you know the partition name, enter the command /sbin/fsck_hfs -yprd /dev/partitionName where you substitute the partition name that you found in step 10 for partitionName. This will run the HFS+ version of the file system consistency check on the partition you specified, and will repair and "normal" errors it finds while outputting what it's doing. You could use -ypr instead if you don't want to know what it's doing, but if you're like me you'll be curious to see what it finds. This step may take a while to run
12. After the fsck_hfs command is done running, you can close Terminal
13. Go back into Disk Utility
14. Click on the hard drive partition you unmounted in step 7, then click on Mount at the top
15. Now you could try running the Repair Permissions and Repair Disk within Disk Utility to see if you have any better luck
16. Close Disk Utility and restart the computer.

At this point your problem should be gone and the system should act normally. If not, then there is probably something much deeper wrong with the disk/partition and you may want to turn to professional help. There is always DiskWarrior too if you'd rather try another utility, but since that's not a free tool I'll leave it up to you. The only other thing I can think of is going into Startup Disk before restarting in step 16 and making sure that the computer is set to startup from the partition that you just fixed. Hopefully you'll never need this, but I actually used it this afternoon on a OS X 10.4 machine that Disk Utility wouldn't fix, and afterwards everything was fine. If you want to see the original article where I found this, click here. It's down in the comments because the original poster has something about cloning drives which you can hopefully avoid with this other solution. Good luck!

UPDATE: 6/30/14

It's been over 5 1/2 years since I published this article, and it still is the most popular for comments. I'm glad it has helped so many people and hope it continues to.

A lot has changed in that time though, and it would be even better to avoid the problem by having backups of your data. It is usually such a pain to keep up with backups. Plugging in a USB drive, waiting for the backup to finish, blah blah blah. I have problems with it on my personal machines because it ends up taking too much time and is a hassle. When you run into an issue like this though you realize just how important it is to have those backups.

The reason I'm adding this to the article is because I've started using an application called CrashPlan for offsite backups for business and am very happy with it. So much so that I may just bite the bullet and start using it for my personal machines too. I'm not affiliated with them in any way and am just a happy customer willing to promote their product of my own accord because I have this article and web traffic. There are other similar paid services out there (Mozy, Carbonite, etc), and some free options with a set amount of storage (e.g. Dropbox). If you're reading this article it's most likely because you've experienced some sort of failure with data loss and are probably in a mild panic if you didn't have a backup. These cloud-based services are good options that run all the time without the typical hassle, and will help you avoid that feeling of panic thinking you lost all your photos, work, or whatever else it was on your hard drive. Definitely do your own due diligence on them to find the right one for you.

The much wider adoption of cloud-based services over the past 5+ years and a severe reduction in the cost to utilize those services make them a very viable option for you and I to protect our ever important data.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Move Blackberry Enterprise Server to a new server

It took a little while for me to dig this up, so I thought I'd post the link here. I needed to know how to migrate our BES server to a new server within a virtualized environment. Blackberry's instructions for performing the server migration weren't too difficult, and I even did it in the middle of the day without any Blackberry users even noticing. You can find the instructions here. In the instructions there is a step to backup and/or restore your BES data too, just in case you were wondering how to do that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Outlook attachment removal macro

You can remove attachments in Outlook simply by opening the message, right-clicking the attachment, and choosing remove. This won't work in the preview pane, but will when the message is open. Another option is to setup and use this macro, which will remove all attachments (including embedded ones) and leave their file names so you can more easily find them later. You can add it as a button to your Outlook toolbar, and just click on it whenever you need it. I use it quite a bit to keep from having attachments all over, and originally found the information here. You can even remove attachments from multiple messages with a single press of the button. Here are instructions and the code for doing this in Outlook 2003. I use it in Outlook 2007, but the setup steps may be slightly different:

1. Go to Start->All Programs->Microsoft Office->Microsoft Office Tools->Digital Certificates for VBA Projects
2. You will be asked to name your certificate. This name can be whatever you choose, as long as you remember what you pick. Something such as “remove” or “attachment” are two options that will make it easier to find when you need it. You should get a notification that the certificate was created successfully.
3.  Now open Outlook. Go to Tools->Macros->Visual Basic Editor.
4. In the top left, in the Project area, expand “Project1”, then expand “Microsoft Office Outlook Objects”. This should give you “ThisOutlookSession”. Double-clicking on “ThisOutlookSession” should open a text input window to the right.
5. Now, copy the text from the bottom of this post, starting with "Public Sub Strip()" to the "EndSub" at the very bottom.
6. Go back to “ThisOutlookSession”, click in the input box, then press Ctrl+V (paste the text you copied into this box). This will fill the input box with the text that had been in outlook.txt.
7. Now go to Tools->Digital Signature… In the “Sign as” section, select Choose. Here you should see the certificate you created in step #2. Select it and click OK. Now it should appear in the “Certificate Name:” area. If it does, press OK.
8. Go to Debug->Compile Project1. This will make your macro into a working program. You won’t notice it doing anything, but it is. After clicking Compile, go ahead and exit the Visual Basic editor. This will bring you back to Outlook. If asked to save changes, choose yes.
9. Now you need to add the button to your Outlook window. To do this, go to View->Toolbars->Customize. Choose the Commands tab, then go to the Macros category. Here you should see your macro. Click on it and drag it to an active toolbar.
10. That’s it. Now when you have an attachment you no longer need, but you’d like to retain the email simply go to that email and click the button you just added. It will ask if you’re sure that you want to delete the attachment. Click OK and there you go.

Public Sub Strip()
    Dim objOL As Outlook.Application
    Dim objMsg As Object
    Dim objAttachments As Outlook.Attachments
    Dim objSelection As Outlook.Selection
    Dim i As Long
    Dim lngCount As Long
    Dim strFile As String
    Dim strFolder As String

    Dim result

    On Error Resume Next
    result = MsgBox("Do you want to remove attachments from selected email(s)?", vbYesNo + vbQuestion)
    If result = vbNo Then
        Exit Sub
    End If
    ' Instantiate an Outlook Application object.
    ' Set objOL = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
    Set objOL = Application
    ' Get the collection of selected objects.
    Set objSelection = objOL.ActiveExplorer.Selection
    ' Check each selected item for attachments.
    ' If attachments exist, save them to the Temp
    ' folder and strip them from the item.
    For Each objMsg In objSelection
        ' This code only strips attachments from mail items.
        If objMsg.Class = olMail Then
        ' Get the Attachments collection of the item.
            Set objAttachments = objMsg.Attachments
            lngCount = objAttachments.Count
            If lngCount > 0 Then
            ' We need to use a count down loop for
            ' removing items from a collection. Otherwise,
            ' the loop counter gets confused and only every
            ' other item is removed.
                strFile = ""
                For i = lngCount To 1 Step -1
                ' Save attachment before deleting from item.
                ' Get the file name.
                    strFile = strFile & objAttachments.Item(i).FileName & " - " & vbCrLf
                    ' Save the attachment as a file.
                    objAttachments.Item(i).SaveAsFile strFile
                    ' Delete the attachment.
                Next i
                  strFile = strFile & " - ATTACH REMOVED - " & vbCrLf & vbCrLf
                Dim objDoc As Object
                Dim objInsp As Outlook.Inspector
                Set objInsp = objMsg.GetInspector
                Set objDoc = objInsp.WordEditor
                objDoc.Characters(1).InsertBefore strFile
                ' objDoc.Save
                objMsg.HTMLBody = strFile + objMsg.HTMLBody
            End If
            strFile = strFile & vbCrLf & vbCrLf
        End If
    Set objAttachments = Nothing
    Set objMsg = Nothing
    Set objSelection = Nothing
    Set objOL = Nothing
End Sub

Monday, December 15, 2008

Resize a hard disk within VMware Server

If you use VMware at all, and are like me and try too hard to save disk space, you've probably run into this before. You create a virtual machine with a small hard drive, and sooner than later you realize that you need more space available. It's a good thing that there is a pretty simple fix to that problem using some command line utilities that come with VMware server.

1. Stop your virtual machine. It can't be running while you do this.
2. Commit or remove any snapshots you may have
3.  Open a Windows command prompt
4. Use the command cd "C:\Program Files\VMWare\VMWare Server" and press Enter
5. Use the command vmware-vdiskmanager -x 12GB "My harddisk.vmdk"

That will expand the disk to however many GB you specify. Also, be sure to replace "My harddisk.vmdk" with the full path and name of your virtual disk.

Now that your disk is extended you'll have to use something like Partition Magic, or just diskpart.exe that comes with Windows. However, to use diskpart, you'll have to mount your newly expanded drive in a second virtual machine since it won't allow you to extend a boot volume directly. For more info on how to use diskpart.exe, see my earlier post here.

The original post that I found that contained most of this info can be found here

Update: If you're using VMWare Infrastructure Client and ESXi, there's a different method for resizing. The trick is to make sure your disk is set to Independent mode, with the Persistent option selected. Then you can the Shrink tab in your VMWare tools within your VM to resize the disk. One thing to note is that you can not use this method if there are any snapshots saved. You'll have to delete them before shrinking the disk, but that's all detailed in the VMWare article.

Anyone else's browser freezing a lot lately?

In recent weeks I've noticed that Internet Explorer and Firefox both have been freezing or crashing a lot. Has anyone else been running into the same issue? Before you jump to conclusions and blame it on spyware or a virus, this problem is happening on 3 different computer. Internet Explorer 7 has been freezing randomly, and Firefox has been crashing randomly. I haven't seen as many problems using Google Chrome, but it's also not fully compatible with all webpages that I view either (works for most though). For the most part they'll work fine, but the pages that seems to be causing the most problems for IE and Firefox are Hotmail, MSN, and Yahoo! I'm not overly worried about it yet, but in case I'm not the only one out there having these problems I thought I'd try a post to see if I get any other feedback.

For any of you who run across this post looking for help removing an actual virus or spyware, check out my earlier post about spyware here and viruses here

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hibernate option disappears in Windows Vista

I've been having some problems where the Hibernate option disappears from my Start menu, and I tend to use it a lot. It's actually a pretty simple fix, but it's still annoying to have to do.

1. Run the Command Prompt as the administrator. To do that, right-click the program icon and choose "Run as administrator"
2. In the command prompt, type the command "powercfg /hibernate on" and press Enter

That's all you should need to do. Check MS KB929658 for more info

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Allow meeting time options in Outlook

I'll start off by saying that this functionality is not built into Outlook, so it's more of a workaround than anything. You can create an appointment, export it to a file, then attach it to an email. If you do this for all the possible times you want to allow for the appointment, then attach them to an email, it will allow the users to select their desired meeting time from the attachments as if it was a meeting request. To do this

1. Create the appointment and invite required attendees, resources or yourself
2. Send the request. This way you'll be able to keep track of it, and will also have an appointment to export
3. Open the appointment from your calendar, then go to File->Save As
4. Save the appointment as an .ics file. It's a good idea to somehow incorporate the meeting time and/or date into the file name to make it easier to keep track of it.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 for each additional meeting time you want to allow users to choose from
6. Compose an email to those you want to give the meeting time options to and attach all of the .ics files you created for the meeting.
7. Send the message

When the recipients accept the meeting request, you'll receive a response like usual and the meeting will be added to their calendar. The appointment will also be updated in your calendar to show anyone who has accepted as an "Optional" attendee.

Like I said, this is a workaround. If you must allow time or date options for Outlook meetings, at least this will let you. If you want to see the original post where I found this, it is here

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Windows Vista virtualized folder location

After having problems finding this in a search, I thought I'd create a post for it. If you've downloaded something in Vista, and then couldn't find it aftewards, it's likely stuck in the virtualized desktop folder. This is in place for security reasons, but I'm not going to get into them here. The only way I've found to access this location is to manually type the full path into either the Run command, or put it in the Explorer address bar. The full path is:

C:\Users\ADMIN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Virtualized

But you'll want to replace "ADMIN" with your username. If you do use the Run command for this, be sure to put it in quotes. The spaces in the path will cause an error otherwise.

The original post that provided the answer can be found on TechNet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free Microsoft Accounting 2009 software

Microsoft is giving away its Office Accounting Express 2009 software for free. I haven't used it yet, but I'll probably give it a try. I'm guessing it's an alternative to Quicken and other types of financial management software. If you want to download it, or just want more information, you can find the website at http://www.ideawins.com/downloads1.aspx. I wasn't so sure it was actually legit when I first came across it because of the ideawins.com name, but it is. If you want to double-check, go to the actual Microsoft Office page for Accounting Express, then click on "Download Accounting Express 2009 for free". It asks for a valid email address, but that appears to be it. Give it a shot and let me know how it works, and perhaps how it compares to other financial software you've used in the past.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

VPN connection problems in Windows Vista, error 609

I have a PPTP VPN connection set up on a Fortigate 60 firewall, and it had worked fine when everyone was using Windows XP. Then I got a laptop that had Windows Vista installed. Things were fine in the beginning, and then all of a sudden the VPN didn't work anymore. I would try to dial in, but it would fail right away saying a connection couldn't be established. I knew it was working though because other users were still using it, and I was able to connect with the Windows XP install I had running through Microsoft Virtual PC. I deleted and recreated the VPN connections with no luck. I checked the firewall configuration and couldn't find anything out of the ordinary. Searching the Internet didn't do much good for a while either. I finally found the answer tonight when I got an error 609 "A device type that was specified does not exist". It gave me something to search on, and sure enough it led me to something that fixed it right away. Apparently it can be caused by L2TP or PPTP not being installed, or else it's corrupt. There are foud small commands you can use from the command prompt to fix this. Open the command prompt, then enter and run these four commands in order:

netcfg -u MS_L2TP
netcfg -u MS_PPTP
netcfg -l %windir%\inf\netrast.inf -c p -i MS_PPTP
netcfg -l %windir%\inf\netrast.inf -c p -i MS_L2TP

This will reinstall PPTP and L2TP support on your Vista computer, which will then allow you to use those protocols. For more information, or to see the original source, check out Microsoft KB 953795.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Redirect folders in my documents for personal Windows computers

This can be done using Group Policy in an Active Directory environment, but if you just want to redirect the folders found in your user profile, you can do that to by modifying the registry. The registry is a very important software piece of the computer, so be careful when changing it. Or use the TweakUI for XP power toy provided by Microsoft, which is a little more GUI/user friendly for those who aren't as experienced with the registry.

1. Go to Start->Run, type regedit, and click OK. This will start the registry editor
2. The registry keys you're looking for are located under HKEY_CURRENT_USER->Software->Microsoft->Windows->CurrentVersion->Explorer->User Shell Folders (just "Shell Folders" in Vista)
3. Find the folder(s) you want to change and double-click on it
4. Paste the full folder path to the new location where you want the folder to be redirected to
5. Click Ok

Depending on your version of Windows, you'll have different options. I'm running Windows Vista right now and there are ~20 different folder locations I could change, ranging from the Fonts and Cookies, to My Music. 

I don't mess around with this much, so redirect at your own risk. If you want more info from Microsoft, check out KB 242557

Move iTunes music folder

You may have come across the problem of running out of space on the hard drive your iTunes are stored on, maybe you have it installed on a work computer and your files are actually on a network drive, or maybe you want to move your music to a completely new computer. Whatever the reason, sometimes it would be nice to be able to move where your iTunes are located. There used to be a registry hack to do this, but it appears that in newer versions of iTunes (at least since v7, maybe even in v6) they've made it much simpler. One thing to note up front is that you shouldn't mess with moving the actual library files, just the music files. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's listed as something to read more about in the Apple how-to articles below.

For Windows

1. Open iTunes.
2. Go to Edit->Preferences.
3. Go to the Advanced tab, then the General tab within it
4. Make sure the "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" checkbox is checked
5. Click the Change button to the right of the iTunes Music folder pane
6. In the window that appears, navigate to the location where you would like your new folder to be created, or where your previous folder already exists. Select it and Click OK
7. Click Ok to exit the preferences
8. Go to File-> Library->Consolidate Library iTunes 8 or choose Advanced-> Consolidate Library for iTunes 7
9. You'll see a warning message, which you can ignore. Click the Consolidate button
10. That's it. You can go trash the original iTunes music folder if you'd like, but remember to be careful about removing the iTunes library files as stated above

For Mac

1. From the iTunes menu, go to Preferences
2. Go to Advanced
3. Check the "Keep iTunes Music folder organized" box
4. Click Ok
5. Repeat step #1 and #2
6. Click on the Change button to the right
7. Navigate to the new iTunes music folder location you want to use
8. Click Open
9. Click Ok
10. Go to File-> Library->Consolidate Library...
11. You'll see a warning message, which you can ignore. Click the Consolidate button
12. Just like #10 for Windows, that's it. You can go trash the original iTunes music folder if you'd like, but remember to be careful about deleting the iTunes library files as stated above

Friday, November 28, 2008

Scan or repair Outlook pst or ost files with scanpst.exe

Microsoft Outlook includes a pst and ost repair utility that you can use to fix problems with those files. If Outlook starts acting odd or begins running slowly, it could point to a problem within your pst or ost files. You can run scanpst.exe to find and fix those issues. You can find it in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\scanpst.exe (if you have Office 2007, it will be Office12, Office 2002 is Office10). Navigate to the location and run scanpst.exe by double-clicking on it. From there, browse to the location of your ost or pst file (for default locations, check out my previous post) and click on the Repair button. Make sure Outlook is closed before trying to repair because if the files are in use, then scanpst.exe can not access them.

For more info and instructions direct from Microsoft: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA100758311033.aspx

*To those looking to comment on this post, please don't just post links to sites offering pay versions of some Outlook repair tool/software. If you have a story where scanpst or scanost didn't work, and you found another tool that did the job, go ahead and post it. But be sure to include the story so I know it's not some type of promo

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reinitialize offline files cache and database in Windows XP

If you're having problems with offline files, you can try reinitializing the cache and database to see if that will fix your issue. One downside is that this will delete any files you haven't already synchronized. You could try retrieving them by viewing offline files. To do that

1. Open My Computer
2. Go to Tools->Folder Options
3. Go to the Offline Files tab and click on View Files

This is also where you can reset the cache and database. To do so, hold Ctrl+Shift and click on Delete Files. It should prompt you to make sure you want to reinitialize the cache and then ask you to restart.

There's a second method involving a registry change, but I'll leave that option off of this post. If you're interested, check out Microsoft KB 230738, which shows both the registry change and the method I listed above

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not enough (or too many) decimals showing in a Microsoft Word mail merge

If you use Microsoft Word's mail merge feature, you may have had problems with decimal places in the past when using something such as an Excel spreadsheet as your data source. If you couldn't figure out how to fix it, give this a try. You can specify how many decimals to show using a parameter within the mail merge field, but it's not exactly out in the open. In order to do this go through the normal Mail Merge process with the wizard and add your fields to the whatever it is you're creating. Now, once the fields have been specified, go to your document and press Alt+F9 to show the field codes. You'll see the data placeholders change to something like 

{MERGEFIELD "datafield"}

Now, find your problematic decimal field and use the '\#' switch (add a space after your data field) so it looks like

{MERGEFIELD "datafield" \#}

Now add another space and here's where you can specify your number format. If you want to have 2 decimals, use "0.0x". For three decimals, use "0.00x". Four is "0.000x" and so on. I'll show the 2 decimal example

{MERGEFIELD "datafield" \# 0.0x}

After you have that specified, go ahead and press Alt+F9 again to go back to the normal data field view. When you preview it, the data should now appear formatted as you specified.

I found the info in an About.com post, which you can find here. I also found an entry on Microsoft.com, which is here in KB320473, but the About.com article was much more useful

Sony Cybershot DSC-S650 won't stay on

One of the cameras we have here is a Sony Cybershot DSC-S650, and it worked fine for the past year or so until last week. The camera wouldn't stay on when you pressed the power button. The screen would flash on for a second, and then shut back off. We tried different batteries and that didn't work. I then found a post saying they had run into similar problems and were able to get the camera to stay on in picture review mode only, so I pressed the Play button and that seemed to get it to stay on longer, but it would die as soon as I put it into camera mode. On www.fixya.com I found someone else with the same problem and also what turned out to be the solution. First things first, remove the memory card. That way you don't have to worry about losing any pictures that may be on it, unless you don't care, in which case you can leave it in the camera. What they said to do on FixYa is reset the camera by holding down the power button, taking out the batteries and continue to hold it down for 15 seconds, and then put the batteries back in and turn it on. As soon as it comes back on, go into the menu an reinitialize the camera's settings. Apparently that resets the actual camera software and fixes the bug that supposedly causes this problem. It worked for me, but I'm not so sure I needed to do all of that. Make sure you check the batteries first. If they're not the problem, try using the Play button to turn on the camera and then quickly go into the Menu and reinitialize the settings (this DOESN'T mean to reformat the card). If that still doesn't work, then try the method given for resetting the software. That's the part I'm not so sure about, but I didn't bother looking into whether it's a valid way to do it or not, so feel free to try it if nothing else works. Either way, good luck!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Manually start and stop Extensis Suitcase Server X1 on OS X

You may have problems with Suitcase Server automatically starting when you restart the server, and that is an issue Extensis has acknowledged. However, they haven't provided a fix, but rather a workaround that tells you how to manually start and stop the application using Terminal. You can find the Terminal application in Applications->Utilities. It's like the Windows command prompt.

To manually start Suitcase Server X1 using Terminal, type:
/Applications/Extensis\ Suitcase\ Server/Suitcase\ Server
and press Enter

To stop Suitcase Server X1, you have to force quit the process. You can either do this with Terminal, or with Activity Monitor (also found in Applications->Utilities). Activity Monitor is probably easiest. Make sure you select "All processes" in the upper right, rather than "My processes". Then look for "Suitcase Server", click it once, then click on Quit in the upper left. It may make you Force Quit, but essentially that's the same as the Terminal method. 

If you're interested in the original post on Extensis's website, or if you want to know how to stop Suitcase Server with Terminal, here's the link: http://www.extensis.com/en/support/kb_article.jsp?articleNumber=3102204

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Specify folder redirection using Blackberry Enterprise Server

If you, or a user, need to have a folder other than the Inbox or Sent Items synchronized with their Blackberry device, you can actually control that from the Blackberry Enterprise Server itself. To do it:

1. Open BlackBerry Manager
2. Click on the server
3. Click on the user, then go to Service Access->Choose Folders
4. Change the option to use the folders you specify, then pick the folder(s) the user needs
5. Click OK

That way you still have control over the synchronization from the administrative side, without ever having to even touch the actual Blackberry.

If you don't have a Blackberry Enterprise server to work with, this can also be done using the Desktop Redirector. For all the available options to synchronize other folders to your device, check out Blackberry's post here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Change between standard and military time in Windows XP

1. Open the Control Panel
2 Select Time Options
2a. Classic View: Open Regional and Language Options.
2b. Category View: Date, Time, Language and Regional Options.
3. Click "Change the format of numbers, dates, and times".
4. Select the "Regional Options" tab.
5. Next to the box that shows your selected language click "Customize".
6. Click the "Time" tab.
7. In the "Time Format" box enter "h:mm:ss:tt"
For military format, you'd enter "HH:mm:ss"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Print list of Outlook appointment attendees

If you've ever needed to print out a list of appointment attendees in the past, but couldn't quite figure it out, that's because Microsoft doesn't actually allow you to do it directly. Instead, you need to select all attendees on the Scheduling tab, then copy and paste them into a Word document. You can then convert those results to a table pretty easily and print from Word using Edit->Convert Text to Table (or in Office 2007, Insert->Table->Convert Text to Table). It's even worse if you need to print out the list from the Tracking tab because you have to use screenshots in order to do it.

You can find the official Microsoft entry here with more detailed instructions.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Free GoToMeeting or Webex alternative for online collaboration - Vyew

If you use Webex or Go To Meeting, or you just need to find an online collaboration tool, you may want to look into Vyew. You can find it at http://vyew.com/site/. You have to create a free account, but then you have access to the collaboration tool, and it's free. They also offer a free tele-conference service to go along with it too.

Zoho offers a free online meeting service too, but it's only good for one on one meetings. Any more require a paid account. If all you need is one on one service though, it would provide you another free alternative rather than paying for Webex or Go To Meeting.

Yet another I've found since originally posting this is DimDim. I have not personally tried DimDim, but the few articles I found reviewing it did say good things so I thought it might be worth mentioning here as yet another alternative.

I'm not too familiar with what Webex or GoToMeeting offer (I know what it is, but have never used it), but Vyew seems pretty comparable, and will hopefully save you some money.

Install the Windows Recovery Console as a boot option

If you want to have the Windows Recovery Console available without needing the installation CD, it's actually pretty easy to do. You WILL need the install CD in order to set it up, but after that you will be able to boot into the Recovery Console whenever you want. It also only takes ~7MB of space, which is practically nothing, especially with the peace of mind it will give you.

1. Put the Windows install CD in the drive
2. Go to Start->Run, then type D:\I386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons and press Ok. That's assuming the D: drive is your CD drive. If not, change that to the letter of the drive with the install disc in it.
3. Follow the prompts

You can then boot into Recovery Console and use helpful commands like bootcfg /rebuild, or chkdsk /r to try to fix errors with your computer, without any need for the XP install CD. For the Microsoft KB307654 article, click here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Extend or shrink hard disk partition in Windows with diskpart.exe

I actually didn't know it was possible to do this until I saw someone demonstrating a SAN and VMWare, and I thought it was pretty useful knowledge. If you partition a hard drive, and then want to consolidate partitions or just delete one to give more space to another, you can do that. Or if you're using virtualization software like VMWare and decide to change the size of your virtual disk, you'll need to do this as well.  You'll have to use the command prompt, and the diskpart.exe utility built into Windows. The Disk Management GUI is nice, but it doesn't allow you to do this.

1. Open the command prompt, type diskpart, then press Enter. This will start the diskpart utility, and you'll see the command prompt change to DISKPART>. 

2. Now you need to find the partition you want to extend or shrink. To do this, use the command list volume. 

3. To change the focus of the diskpart utility to the partition you want to work with, select volume #, where # stands for the number of the volume that you see listed in step #2.

4. Assuming you already have the space on the drive available to extend the partition to, just type extend and press Enter. This will expand your partition into the new free space.

You can also shrink the volume instead of extending it, or you can specify just how much to extend or shrink with additional command line parameters. I just covered the easiest, and most useful feature in my opinion. diskpart.exe has plenty of other uses too, but most of those can also be done in the Disk Management MMC. Basic vs Dynamic disks are another interesting topic, along with striped disks right from Windows. I'll leave those for another time though. diskpart.exe does have some difference between XP and Vista, but I'll let you figure those out as you go. Just know that if you have problems using it in Vista, check to make sure the command is supported.

For more information about diskpart.exe, check out these links.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Intel Macbook keyboard not working

Today I had a user with a Macbook email me to say the keyboard and mouse weren't working, even after a restart. However, a bluetooth mouse that was attached was working fine. The CAPS lock key was stuck on, but it may have been like that prior to the keyboard becoming unresponsive. I tried restarting again just to see for myself, and it definitely didn't work. So, I did a full shutdown and left it sit for a few minutes, then powered it back on. The keyboard and mouse were fine after that. Since restarting doesn't necessarily cut power to the machine, some component must have needed to actually be shut off in order to reset itself. I know this sounds like common sense, but just in case someone runs across this problem and turns to Google first, try shutting down completely and then turning it back on.

Add or remove items from Finder Sidebar in OS X

If you go to Finder->Preferences, and then click on the Sidebar icon, you can check or uncheck the items you want. This controls whether they show up in the Sidebar. If you want to add a shortcut to a particular file or folder to the Sidebar, simply go to it and drag it on to the Sidebar. That will add it to the list.

In the Finder preferences you may find some other useful options, such as what icons to show on the desktop, and what should be opened by default when you open a new Finder window. Click around and you may just find something you've been looking for.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Remove the 'X' to close or disconnect Terminal Services

For those of you who run into the same problem I do where users always want to click the 'X' at the top rather than going to Start->Log Off, this might be helpful. It involves hacking the remote desktop client program (mstsc.exe) and then having the users use the hacked version. It will then prompt the user with an error message if they try to just close out of the terminal services session with the 'X'. I have not used this or tested it, so try it at your own risk. It does look legit though, and I may get around to testing it because I do see the problem a lot. The one thing I don't like is that you have to do it on the client side, which means that everyone would need to change to using the hacked remote desktop executable. It would be nicer to have a fix that exists on the server instead so you don't have to mess with the clients, and maybe that's out there, but I didn't find it. Anyway, no more delay. Here's the article: http://terminal.servebeer.com/php/x_box_disable.php

Set the default logon domain for Terminal Services

We had a 2 server Terminal Services farm, but one would default to the local domain which was confusing users when they logged in. In order to fix this, you can set override the default user settings in the Terminal Services Configuration. To do this:

1. Go to Start->Administrative tools->Terminal Services Configuration, then right-click RDP-tcp connection to the right an choose Properties.
2. Go to the Logon Settings tab and select "Always use the following information".
3. Leave the User name and Password fields blank and enter the domain name you would like as the default in the Domain field
4. Check the box that says "Always prompt for password" and click OK

If you skip step #4 it will still work, but every time a user tries to log in they will get an error saying they couldn't be logged in with the default information and they'll have to click OK to enter their info. That is because if it isn't set to always prompt for a password, then it will try to use whatever is entered in the boxes at step 3, which most likely is nothing.

Original post:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Remove signature from custom Outlook form

Creating custom forms in Outlook is pretty simple, but the problem I ran into is that my signature was being put in the Message body every time. I did a little searching and found the solution to remove the signature from the custom form.

1. Open the form in design mode.
2. Run the form.
3. Delete the signature.
4. Use the "Design This Form" command to open the form again in design mode.
5. Publish the new form, which should no longer have the signature in it.

The original post where I found this is here. They listed something about versioning control, so if that's something you're interested in, check their post. I don't need versioning control so I was able to use the 5 steps above

Excel VB to convert cell values to hyperlinks

Update 2/24/09: I've noticed increased traffic to this post using keywords that make it appear that some of you are just looking how to create a hyperlink in an Excel cell, without the need for any VB code. If that's all you want to do, right-click on the cell you want and select "Hyperlink...". At the top you can enter the text you want to have visible to the user and displayed within the cell, and at the bottom you can enter the actual URL the user will be directed to by clicking on the cell. If you're looking to automatically convert a bunch of cells with URL's into hyperlinks, then go ahead and continue on to the original article.

I was presented with an issue yesterday. A user was getting a .csv export that contained a column with URLs, but those URLs were coming across as plain text in the export, rather than being clickable. They also wanted to hide the URL and display different text in the cell instead. So I did some digging, and some programming, and came up with the following for them:

Function CreateLink() As Integer
Dim row As Integer 'used to track the row we're in

Dim strLink As String 'used to store the URL that already exists as text in a cell
Dim column As String 'used to track the column we're in
Dim Cell As String 'used to combine the row and column into a cell reference value
Dim displayTxt As String 'used to set the text we want the hyperlink to display

displayTxt = "IMAGE" 'hyperlink will always show up as "IMAGE"
column = "G" 'existing text hyperlink values are all in column G
row = 2 'I had a header row so actual values start in row 2
Cell = column & row 'combine row and column in this case to get the Cell = "G2"

While Range(Cell).Value <> "" 'continue looping until the value in the cell is blank
strLink = Range(Cell).Value 'set the hyperlink value to be what's in the cell (G2 first time)

Range(Cell).Hyperlinks.Add _ 'add the hyperlink
Anchor:=Cells(row, column), _ 'sets which cell to add the link in
Address:=strLink, _ 'sets the hyperlink URL
TextToDisplay:=displayTxt 'sets the text to display. We wanted "IMAGE" only

row = row + 1 'go to the next row in the next iteration of the loop
Cell = column & row 'set the new cell value with the new row number

End Function

In our case, the url text existed in column "G", which is why I was able to set it statically above. Then I wanted to loop through the sheet to get through all the cells in the G column until there weren't any more values, which is where the While loop comes in. As I looped through the cells, I also wanted to convert the value within the cell to be a clickable hyperlink using the text that was already in the cell, and also change the visible text in the cell to read "IMAGE" so that's all the person would see.

I just put a call to this function in the SelectionChange portion of the worksheet properties. After it ran and converted the cells, I removed the VB code and saved the worksheet again. This ran pretty quickly and saved the user from manually going in and changing the display text on all the cells, and from changing the plain text representing the hyperlink to an actual hyperlink

Monday, October 20, 2008

Manage Microsoft Outlook custom forms

If you use custom forms in Microsoft Outlook, you may come to a point where you need to manage the forms that are available. If you need to remove forms, you can do so by going to Tools->Options->Other->Advanced Options->Custom Forms... This will allow you to delete those forms that you have published, but do not want to have available any more. You can also manage forms in the Organizational Forms Library from here too, if you have Owner permissions on the library folder.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Automating Linux processes with 'cron'

If you have been looking to schedule some type of task on your Linux machine, but aren't sure how to do it, there's cron. cron is the Linux task scheduler, and is a very useful tool. My use has been limited to Red Hat, so I can't vouch for the validity of this for other flavors of Linux. If you try it with another version and run into problems, consult the system documentation for cron's usage. In Red Hat, the system cron tasks are found at /etc/crontab. Any user-defined cron tasks are to be placed at /var/spool/cron. There are also more tasks found at /etc/cron.d. Using your favorite text editor, you can create or modify the cron files to include whatever command(s) you want to execute on a schedule. The syntax for a command within a cron file is as follows:

minute hour day month dayofweek command

Where the values correspond to:

minute: any integer from 0 to 59
hour: any integer from 0 to 23
day: any integer from 1 to 31, depending on the month you choose
month: any integer from 1 to 12 (or the short name of the month)
dayofweek: any integer from 0 to 7 where 0 or 7 represents Sunday (or the short name of the week such as sun, mon, and so on)
command: the command to execute

You can also use * as the wildcard to represent all possible combinations. Some examples:

Reboot the machine at 5am on February 7th
0 5 7 2 * /sbin/init 6

Reboot on Mondays at 7:30pm
30 19 * * 1 /sbin/init 6
30 19 * * mon /sbin/init 6

Reboot every hour on the hour
0 * * * * /sbin/init 6

For more information and a more detailed explanation, check out this page.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Microsoft Diagnostics winmsd command in Vista

For those of you used to going to Start->Run and typing in winmsd to get to the Microsoft Diagnostics application, you may have had a little surprise the first time you tried it in Windows Vista. That's because the command has been changed. The new command in msinfo32, which you can use just the same as you had done with winmsd, allowing you to get to the Microsoft Diagnostics within Windows Vista.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Illustrator CS3 printing issue, status bar slow or frozen

I manage ~20 Mac designers, and we're mixed with Intel and PPC machines. They're all running CS3 now, and we recently updated our printer drivers due to some color issues. Things seemed to be ok, but then two of the users on Intel Macs started reporting that every time they printed from Illustrator CS3, the printer would kick out the actual document fine, but that Illustrator would be stuck with a print status bar on the screen and they would have to force quit. If they waited 15-20 minutes it would go away, but they can't wait that long between printing or using Illustrator. If you're running into the same type of problem, I may have a solution for you. I found it in the Adobe forums, and it is definitely not something I would have though of myself. Enable hiding of the dock. That's it. I did it on the machines that were having problems and they started printing fine without the delay. The users in the forum think that there's a problem with the print status bar that now appears under the Illustrator icon in the dock when you print, and that by hiding the dock it doesn't show that icon, which in turn means it doesn't have to do anything with the icon's print status. I was actually pretty amazed that something so minor could cause such problems, and be fixed with such an seemingly unrelated setting. The users I have are all running OS X 10.4.11, printing to a Xerox DocuColor 240 with a Fiery rip. Printing to other printers caused the same problem though, so it was printer independent.

If you were pulling your hair out trying to find a solution to this problem, hopefully this works for you. If you want to read the original post in the Adobe Forums, you can find it here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Adobe Photoshop for free?

Ok, not really. Sorry if you feel misled. However, what I do have is a free, open-source Photoshop alternative that you can download and use as you with. It's called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and you can find it at www.gimp.org. I've used it some, and almost anything I can remember reading about it was positive, so give it a try if you're looking for some type of image manipulation program.

How to delete an iPhone 3G application

First of all, you need to go to the main screen on the iPhone where you get your list of icons. Hold your finger on the application icon you want to remove, and after a few seconds all of your icons will start shaking. This means that they're in delete mode. Simply press the icon of the application you want to remove and confirm the removal.

Now that it's off your phone, you'll also want to remove it from your iTunes library. If you leave it in iTunes then it will be reinstalled on your phone every time you synchronize, which I'm going to guess you don't want since you're here looking for instructions on how to uninstall the application. Just go into iTunes, then Applications, find the one you no longer want and delete it

Monday, October 13, 2008

Using C# FileUpload in Visual Studio 2005

I can usually find the right item to use, but not always the correct syntax to use it. I did find the C# syntax for the FileUpload tool pretty quickly though, and thought I'd share.

if (Image1Upload.HasFile)

//change label to show upload starting
statusLbl.Text = "Uploading File " + Image1Upload.FileName;

//get current working directory on server and store as currentPath
String currentPath = Server.MapPath(".")
//create new path by combining current path and upload file name
String uploadPath = Path.Combine(currentPath, Image1Upload.FileName);
//upload file to your desired upload path

//change label to show successful upload
statusLbl.Text = "File Successfully Uploaded";
statusLbl.Text = "Unable to save the file";
statusLbl.Text = "You have to select a file to upload";

This has two dependencies, which are a FileUpload named Image1Upload, and a Label named statusLbl. Image1Upload is what's actually used for the file, while statusLbl is optional and is just used to display the status to the end user so they know whether the upload worked or not. You can also add folders to the currentPath variable in order to put the uploaded file elsewhere, for example:

//put the file in a folder called images
String currentPath = Server.MapPath(".") + "\\images\\";

You need to use double backslashes because it's the escape character. Also, in order to use the Path.Combine() command, you must include using System.IO; in your project.

The original post, along with VB instructions too, can be found here.

Track Windows Terminal Server users' logon and logoff usage

If you've ever been asked if you can track a user's usage from home, this may be useful. That is assuming that you have your remote users coming in to your system via some type of terminal services login. If you do, you can use simple batch files and group policy to log your user usage.

Create a login.cmd file with the following:

echo logon %username% %computername% %date% %time% >> \\server\folder\audit_logs\%username%.log

That will create a log file in the shared folder location \\server\folder with the given person's username, along with the computer they used to login and the date/time of their access.

You'll also want to create a logoff.cmd file:

echo logoff %username% %computername% %date% %time% >> \\server\folder\audit_logs\%username%.log

This will append a line to the existing log file for that user, with logoff in the beginning rather than logon. That will allow you to distinguish between logons and logoffs.

Keep in mind that the users you want to monitor will need to have write access to the folder where the logs are stored as their accounts will be the ones actually making the changes to the files. You can enable these files through Active Directory group policy. In your group policy, go to User Configuration-> Windows Settings-> Scripts (Logon/Logoff) and then set each to run at the appropriate time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Adobe Photoshop freezes when opening a file in OS X

Apparently this is a known issue in all versions of Photoshop, or so it said in the Adobe forums. If you are trying to open a file in Photoshop CS3 but the application freezes, it might be a simple fix. If you have a CD/DVD in the drive, eject it. Otherwise, is you have any USB drives attached to your machine, eject those. I thought it sounded like a stupid idea to fix the problem, but I was the stupid one when I ran out of options and had to try it. Wouldn't you know as soon as the DVD was ejected, Photoshop started working fine. I had the same problem happening in Photoshop CS2 on that machine, and after the DVD was ejected that started working correctly too. I think Adobe needs to solve that problem because having a disk in the drive shouldn't cause an application to completely freeze. This may be the same for Photoshop on Windows too, but I only have experience with Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3 on OS X, and I know that it solved the problem for both of them.

If you did run across the blurb while looking for help with Photoshop CS3 for Windows, one thing you might try is changing your default printer. I found quite a few entries when trying to solve this on a Mac that said it was caused by having a networked printer set as the default in Windows. If you change your default to be a local printer, the problem might go away. Again, I didn't actually try this, but it's something else you can attempt if you can't think of anything else.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

View another person's calendar with Entourage

First off, I'm assuming that you have permissions to view the other person's calendar. I'm also assuming that you're using an Exchange server for your email and calendaring. If both of those are true, then this should work for you.

1. Open Entourage
2. Go to File->Open Other User’s Folder
3. Click the button to the right of the “User:” box. It has the symbol of a person on it
4. In the box that pops up, type all or part of the person’s name, then click Find. This will search the global address list for the person
5. In the results, you should see the person you’re looking for. Click on their entry so it is highlighted, then click Ok
6. Now you should be back at the box from step #3. Make sure “Type:” is set to Calendar and click Ok

That will add that person’s calendar to your Entourage calendars. You can add multiple people if you’d like (just repeat the steps). To then view the other person’s calendar, go into Entourage, then to Calendars. On the left, you’ll see the Calendar Views section. There will be an entry for everyone’s calendar you have setup. To view someone in your list’s calendar, simply click on it and allow it to load. You’ll be able to see their appointments and when they’re busy. To get back to your own calendar just click on your own name.

If you want to remove someone’s calendar from your list, hold down control and click on their calendar entry. A menu will pop-up and you’ll want to choose “Remove from View”. It may then prompt you, and if it does, select Remove. That will get rid of that person’s calendar from your list of calendars.

Adobe CS3 updates link grayed out in OS X - manually start Adobe Updater

Maybe I'm one of the few that run into this problem because I have the Macs set up in Open Directory, but maybe not. I really think it's a permissions problem linked back to the Open Directory accounts. Most of the time it works fine after the CS3 install, but other times you just can't run the Adobe Updater using the link in the Help menu for Adobe Creative Suites 3. Using Disk Utility to repair the permissions doesn't work either. There is a workaround for this though. You can manually start the Adobe Updater, as long as you're an administrator, from the command line.

1. Open Terminal. It can be found at Application->Utilities->Terminal
2. Type the command sudo /Applications/Utilities/Adobe\ Utilities.localized/Adobe\ Updater5/Adobe\ Updater.app/Contents/MacOS/Adobe\ Updater and press Enter
3. When prompted, enter your password. If you have a root user setup, use that password instead
4. The Adobe Updater should start and you can go about updating like normal

When entering the command in step 2, one trick is to type a few letters and then hit Tab. If you've typed enough letters to make it a distinct entry in the folder, hitting Tab will fill out the rest for you.

This has worked for me 100% of the time (ok, so all 3 times I needed it) on machines that had the updates link in the Help menu grayed out in CS3. I had the problem a few times back when I had to install CS2, but never bothered looking this far into it. Who knows? Maybe this will help you bypass the same problem in CS2 too. Hopefully you have the same luck with it as I have

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Use System Restore from Recovery Console

I ran into a problem where one of my user's laptops would get stuck just after the Windows loader, and trying to get into safe mode didn't work either. You're supposed to be able to use the Recovery Console to fix problems like this caused by a corrupt registry by following Microsoft's instructions from KB 307545. Instead, I found this thread with instructions on how to use System Restore while in the Recovery Console. When running a "chkdsk /r C:" from the recovery console wasn't enough, I gave this system restore option a try. It worked just fine and after I was done and rebooted, the system booted and I was able to login and do an actual restore using the GUI tool. In order to get to the recovery console, you can boot from your Windows installation disk and press R when asked to get into the repair section. If you'd rather not take use this system restore workaround, feel free to use Microsoft's instructions instead by following the link above.

When you get to the recovery console follow these instructions.
1. Type cd \ then Enter
2. Then cd system~1\_resto~1 then Enter. If you get an access denied error, skip down to the bottom of this post for now.
3. Type dir then Enter. When you hit enter it will list all the restore points folders like rp1, rp2 …….. If the restore points have more than one page then u have to keep on hitting the key to view the last restore point folder. You will have to choose the second to last option folder
4. Type cd rp {the second to the last restore point no. } (Note: Example: cd rp9, if rp9 is the second to the last restore point where the last restore point no. is 10
5. Then type cd snapshot Now the command prompt will look like this c:\system~1\_resto~1\rp9\snapshot
6. Type: copy _registry_machine_system c:\windows\system32\config\system and press enter
7. Then type: copy _registry_machine_software c:\windows\system32\config\software and press enter.

8. Type exit and press enter

I ran into the Access Denied error at step 2, and this workaround worked for me:

1. Type cd \ then press Enter
2. Type cd windows\system32\config then press Enter
3. Type ren system system.bak then press Enter
4. Type exit press Enter
5. After the machine reboots, go back into the Recovery Console and try again

Free FTP client for Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista

If you deal with transferring files via FTP a lot, then you probably have an FTP client. If you don't have a client, you should. OS X actually requires you to have a client in order to upload to an FTP server, so it's a good thing there are a couple of free ones out there. In Windows it's built into Internet Explorer for both upload and download, but a client is nice to have anyway. Rather than paying for something like Fetch, why not save the money and check out one of these

FileZilla is a free FTP client for download that supports both Windows and Mac OS X. It also has a free FTP server download in case you're looking to host your own FTP site. I prefer FileZilla because it's can be used across platforms (supports XP, Vista, OS X, and Linux). That way you can support users on other systems who are having problems with it because you can familiarize yourself with it on whatever system you have. Plus it just works.

If you're on a Mac and don't necessarily like FileZilla, you can also try CyberDuck. It's very similar to FileZilla, and also has Apple's endorsement.

Disable email address autocomplete in Outlook

If you want to completely disable the autocomplete feature, within Outlook, go to Tools->Options. Then under the Preferences tab, go to E-mail Options, then Advanced E-mail Options. Uncheck the "Suggest names while completing To, Cc, and Bcc fields check box" and click Ok a few times to get back to the main screen. That will disable the autofill feature. If you want to know how to remove a single address, or how to copy the autocomplete file to another computer, you can click those links to be directed to my earlier posts about them.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Creating a signature in Microsoft Entourage for Mac

If you're an Entourage user and want to create a signature to use with your messages, here's a how-to guide.

1. Create a new signature by opening Entourage, then going to Tools->Signature
2. Click New, then enter a name for the signature.
3. The signature creation box will open. Create your signature, and then close. You can add images to your signature by dragging them into the window. Save it when prompted
4. Close the signature list
5. Now go to Entourage->Account Settings
6. Click on the account and then click Edit
7. Go to Options
9. Under the Message Options area, change the Default Signature to be the one you just created and saved
10. Click Ok to get back to your normal Entourage window

At this point you can test your signature to see if it works. Try composing a new message, and if the signature doesn't show up, it's probably because your formatting is a little too fancy for plain text. You can fix that by going on to the next steps. If your signature does show up though, you're done and can skip the next part.

11. Go to Entourage->Preferences
12. Click on Compose
13. Under General, change the Mail Format to HTML.
14. Click Ok to get back to Entourage

Now your signature should be in place for your new messages

Set or change a Microsoft Outlook signature

If you don't know how to set up a signature in Microsoft Outlook, you've come to the right place.

1. Open Outlook, then go to Tools->Options
2. Go to the Mail Format tab, then click the Signatures button
3. Click on New
4. Enter a name for your signature, which can be anything you want
5. Now you can create your signature in the box below. Format it how you want, insert images, and do whatever else. Then be sure to save it.
6. Now make sure you select that signature to be used in your emails. You can create different signature to use in new messages and replies, or just use the same for both.

Click OK a few times to get back to the main screen and you're set. If you have multiple signatures and decide you want to change it up for an individual message, you can go to Insert->Signature and then choose which one to use for that message. This process would be pretty much the same if you wanted to modify a signature you had set up before. Go into Signatures, change the one you want, then save it.

View someone else's Outlook calendar

First off, this is assuming a few things.

1. You're using an Exchange server
2. Both you and the person you're trying to view the calendar of are on the same Exchange server
3. You have permissions to view the other person's calendar
4. You are using Outlook

If those four are all true, then you should be in luck. To view someone else's calendar should be fairly simple. Open Outlook, go to Calendar, then you should see some options on the left. One of those is "Open a Shared Calendar..." Click on that, search the directory and select the person you want to view the calendar of, then press Ok. To browse the directory, you can press the Name button. If the permissions are correct, the other person's calendar will open alongside yours within Outlook. You can toggle their calendar on or off by checking or unchecking the entry for them on the left of the window.

I'll be posting an entry on how to do this in Entourage soon as well

Rename file and append date or time stamp using batch script

I found an even easier way to do this, but have left the original post below. You can use a combination of environmental variables and substring commands to do the rename right inline. All you have to do is add the following, depending on what you want to include:

%date:~-4,4% - Year
%date:~-7,2% - Month
%date:~-10,2% - Day
%time:~-11,2% - Hours
%time:~-8,2% - Minutes
%time:~-5,2% - Seconds
%time:~-2,2% - Milliseconds

If you want to datestamp a file with YYYYMMDD, you can use the command

ren file.txt file-%date:~-4,4%%date:~-7,2%%date:~-10,2%

If you want to timestamp a file with HHMMSS (no milliseconds), you can use

ren file.txt file-%time:~-11,2%%time:~-8,2%%time:~-5,2%

Then you can also use any combination of those to create a date and time stamp if you'd like.

To see where I found this information, check it out here

Original Post

You can use a simple batch script to rename a file and add a datestamp to it. The code is below. You can modify the filename to be the path and name of the file you want. You can change "copy" to "ren" if you want to just rename the original. Leave it as "copy" if you want to create a copy of the file. You can also change the path where you add the date to the name too if you want to create a copy in a different location. Here's the example code:
for /f "tokens=2-4* delims=/ " %%a in ('DATE /T') do set THEDATE=%%c%%a%%b

copy /Y/V C:\filename.txt C:\filename%THEDATE%.txt
In the code above, THEDATE is defined by variables a, b, and c. Those stand for the day, month, and year.
a = month
b = day
c = year
You can rearrange them as needed, which I already did for my purposes. The code above with show the date as yyyymmdd. You'll want to make sure the lines of code all appear on the same line. I could've posted an image with everything looking nice, but this way you can copy and paste that code which I know most will be grateful for.
The original post that helped me can be found here. There is also more code in that post that includes using the time rather than just the date.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Restore Fortigate firewall and gain admin access

I'm not sure what happened, but at one point I ended up losing all access to one of our firewalls. It was a Fortigate-60, and there really was nothing I could do. It started out as not being able to login at all, but then it progressed to no web access, and even telnet wouldn't work. I contacted Fortinet support and they were able to help. You can reload the firmware by connecting to the firewall with the console cable (provided with the unit), and using a TFTP server to host the firmware image. You can find free software to create a TFTP server on your machine. The one I used is here from SolarWinds. Hopefully you have a backup of your configuration file though, because reloading the firmware this way will wipe out any information you may have already saved. I didn't have a saved config when I ran into the problem, but to me, it was either do the restore or have a useless piece of equipment so it was a no-brainer.

The instructions for the restore are found here, at Fortinet's official site. I had problems with my cable when I did it, but I didn't have the one provided so I had to make my own. It was a mess, but it accomplished what it needed to do if I held it in just the right position... If you're like me and end up misplacing cables, you can make your own too. Hopefully it comes up better than mine did. The pin-outs for the cables can be found here. The process ended up being pretty simple, and afterwards my firewall was as good as new. Hopefully this doesn't happen to you, but if it does and you find this post, you should be able to get it back up and running. Good luck!

DIY Ethernet patch and crossover cables

If you want to make your own ethernet patch cables, then you need to know the correct configuration of the colors on each end. If you don't know the colors, they are:


That also happens to be the correct order, from left to right, of a straight-through patch cable. That's the most common, and used for network traffic. You can also create a crossover cable for specific uses. If that's what you want, then the order of colors is a little different. I'm including a couple of pictures to make it easier for you.

Crossover Configuration

Straight-through Configuration (standard)

Then all you need is some Cat5e cable (or Cat5, or Cat6, whatever you want to use), a few RJ-45 jacks, and possibly a patch cord tool that will help with the crimping of the jack. I've done it with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver, but trust me, the crimping tool is MUCH easier. One other thing to keep in mind is that some RJ-45 jacks are easier to work with than others. Check where the wires go into them, and make sure that they are flat, straight vertical separators for each wire. I've tried using others that are round holes, and some that are staggered high and low, but that just makes for a hard time of getting the colored wires into the right spot. The plain, straight vertical separators are by far the easiest to use.

Install or remove fonts in Windows XP or Vista

First off, you can only use TrueType or OpenType fonts in Windows, so if you have PostScript fonts you're stuck. There are ways to do it, but they're not openly supported in Windows. If you need to do it anyway I'll add a quick blurb about it at the end of this.

If you're running Vista, then it's really simple. Just right-click on the font file and choose Install. That will install the font on your system.

If you have XP then there are two options. One is to copy and paste (or just move) the font file into the C:\Windows\Fonts directory. That will install it on the system. Or you can do it through the Control Panel, which is how Microsoft shows how to do it. If you want to remove a font, just go in and delete it from the Fonts directory.

To uninstall fonts in Vista you're best off using the Control Panel. Go to Appearance and Personalizations, then choose Fonts. Select the font(s) you want to remove, then go to File->Delete. The Microsoft article for this is found here.

Now, about PostScript, you have to install additional software in order to use the fonts. You also must have a printer that supports PostScript, and not all of them do. If you have Adobe Type Manager, then you're in luck. Here's an article that explains how to do it: http://www.ehow.com/how_8138_install-postscript-fonts.html. There may be other ways, but I've never bothered looking into them since I don't really need any fonts other than the defaults.

Free Internet connection speed and bandwidth test

My favorite is at SpeakEasy.com. You can find it at http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest. It's Flash-based, so you need to have Flash installed for it to work. You have different options of where to test the connection to, but they're limited to the United States.

If you're from outside the US, another option is http://www.speedtest.net/. It lets you pick from several different locations around the world to test your connection, so you can find one close to where you will be downloading/uploading to. I actually just found this one, and after looking at it, it may be my new favorite.

Here are some others:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Linux - use find along with cp to copy specific files by date

The reason this came up is because someone I work with was trying to copy specific files from one folder to another, but only if they were created today. He tried using grep and didn't have any luck. I'm not saying you can't use grep, but I figured it out using find instead because it seemed to allow you to use more parameters. The trick is using the find command as your first argument in the cp command. Here's the example:

cp `find filename*.txt -mtime -1` /home/common/files

This will take any files from the current directory that are like filename.txt (e.g filename99.txt, filename130fff.txt, etc), AND that have been modified in the last 24 hours ( number x 24 hours. e.g. use 2 for 48 hrs, 3 for 72 hrs, etc.), and copy them to the directory /home/common/files. You could change mtime argument to mmin instead, and then the number following would be the number of minutes in the past the file would've been modified, which in this case would be 1 minute. In the find command, you can use a full file path as well so you don't have to start the command from within a particular folder. Hopefully that has enough information to at least get you started. To find more parameters for commands, use the man pages in Linux ("man find" or "man cp") to list them. You can always search Google too, which is what I usually do, and you may find some helpful examples. Here is the link to the page that pointed me in the right direction in regards to using find with date/time parameters: http://www.linux.ie/newusers/beginners-linux-guide/find.php

Load pantone colors in Adobe Creative Suites 3

I haven't tried this, but was asked about it today and found this in the Adobe Forum

1. Inside CS3, go to Windows, then Swatches
2. Click on the options at top right of Swatches
3. Open Swatch library
4. Color books

Original post taken from the Adobe Forums

Hope it helps!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Motorola Good Mobile Messaging (Goodlink) debug mode reprovision

This is only for Palm Treo 650's and 750's. The 650's are a little dated, but there may still be others using them since I have a few users still. If you run into problems using Good Mobile Messaging on the devices, you can reprovision your device to try to fix the synchronization problem. To do this, do the following:

Open the GoodLauncher. It is the standard Good icon that will give you the menu of the Good applications you have installed on the phone.

Once GoodLauncher has started

a) If you're on a Treo 650, on your keypad, type "debug"
b) On the Treo 750, you have to type "000debug" where the first three are zeros

This should put you into the Good debugger. In order to reprovision your device, type "reprov" and press Enter. Enter is the return key, and has the symbol that looks like an arrow going down and to the left.

You will then be prompted and asked if you wish to delete all data. Here you'll want to type "y" and press Enter. I know this sounds scary, but by "all data", it really only means all Good data. Any other files on your phone will stay as is. It just needs to delete all the Good application data before reloading it

Your phone will probably restart, and then reprovision your device with the Good server. Once it's done, your email, contacts, calendar, etc will resynchronize and you'll be back to work within Good. I've used this multiple times and the nice thing is that you don't have to request a new PIN from your Good administrator. If you're looking for instructions for other mobile devices, sorry, I don't have them. However, if you check out Good's support site you may be able to track some down for your particular device.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Black box printing instead of image in Word

If you're trying to print a Microsoft Word document that has images in it, but those images are printing out as black boxes instead, it could be caused by a couple of things. The first to check would be to make sure you're allowing drawing objects to be printer. To do this, go to Tools->Options, then select Print and see if Draft mode is checked. If it is, uncheck that box. Also make sure "Drawing Objects" is checked.

Another possibility could be outdated printer drivers. Most printer manufacturers release new drivers on a regular basis, so anytime you're having printer problems, that's a good place to start. Go to your printer manufacturers webpage and search for your printer model. Usually the driver downloads are located within the manufacturers support pages. Find the driver compatible with your printer and whatever system you're using, download, install, and then try printing again.

Default location of Microsoft Outlook pst files

If you're an Microsoft Outlook user, but aren't using a Microsoft Exchange server, then you know how important pst files are. However, you may not know where they are on your machine. This is important for backup reasons, and also in case you ever need to move them to a new computer. They are stored in different locations, depending on which version of Windows you're using. They're also hidden from view, unless you explicitly select to show hidden files.

First off, you need to show hidden files. You can do this by going to My Computer->Tools->Folder Options, and then go to View and select Show hidden files and folders. Now, the location depends on your OS.

If you're running Windows XP, the default pst file location is:
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
where username needs to be replaced with your username on the computer.

If you're a Windows Vista user, then you can find the pst file(s) at

You can always select a different location for the pst when you first create it, but if you don't remember where you put it then it's most likely in the default location. For information regarding nk2 files, which are responsible for saving your auto-fill lists, refer to my earlier post. Those locations are also the default locations for ost files that are used when you have an Microsoft Exchange account setup. You don't have to worry about those though because as long as your email resides on the Exchange server, you'll have a backup of it there.