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:

*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 post, which you can find here. I also found an entry on, which is here in KB320473, but the 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 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:

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 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:

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: