Category Archives: Applications

The apps we use day in and day out.

Backup Office 2007 Settings

So, you’ve spent the last few hours setting up Office Outlook views for GTD productivity (as I have done) and are wondering how you backup your office settings incase you need to reinstall at a later time.  Here’s how, using USMT:

  • Google for USMT, download and install.
  • Invoke a command prompt with administrator privileges.
  • Change the directory where USMT is installed.
  • Run the command scanstate <store-path> /i:MigApp.xml /c

This will create a store named Store for you which will have all your settings stored.

Later if you want to restore your application specific settings, you can restore it using the store created above with the command:

  • loadstate <store-path> /i:MigApp.xml /c

Here <store-path> is the one that was created in step 3.

Of course, USMT is not just backing up settings from Office, but most of you other MS applications too, so when restoring you may need to get a little creative.

Outlook Panic Averted

I was in the middle of enjoying my Friday afternoon at the office when I noticed that all of my archived mail and scheduled calendar appointments were missing from Outlook.  Shock Horror! What was I to do?

After throwing my hands in the air, running around the room cursing a few dozen times I went to find out if something had gone wrong on the server – nope, all was fine there.  The last server backup was a couple of days stale, and I’d only just organized my email folders for GTD and was daunting the thought of having to repeat the process. 

The next step was to thumb through my disk looking for cached PST files that Outlook may have scurried away somewhere – no luck there, only stuff I found was way out of date.

So, I was just about to give up, when I noticed a menu item in Outlook 2007 called “Recover Deleted Items” – I jumped on that option faster than a hungry puma on bleeding zebra and was relieved to find out that I could recover my mail and calendar items.  The process wasn’t as painless as I’d have liked because the recovery option does not work on sub folders, just the current selected.  Since my mailbox has a few nested folders, I spent the last hour recovering.

Lesson for the day – backup mailbox items daily to a PST file.

Vista Slow File Copy – Fix

Are you tired of waiting around for Vista to copy your files, did XP seem so much faster at performing the same job?  You’re not alone in thinking there is a problem with the current RTM version of Vista. 

MS claim that they’ll fix the problem in Vista SP1 (whenever that is) but for now they’re keeping quiet about a hotfix.  Fortunately this hotfix is available to you if you know where to look.  So, I’ve made your life easier and included the locations below (I did not link directly because the site uses an anti-leech mechanism).

32-bit:

http://thehotfixshare.net/download/index.php?
dir=Language%20Neutral/Vista/&file=Windows6.0-KB931770-x86.msu

64-bit:

http://thehotfixshare.net/download/index.php?
dir=Language%20Neutral/Vista/&file=Windows6.0-KB931770-x64.msu

I noticed an improvement – transfers to my external USB drive are now 7-10MBS, much better than the 3MBS I was experiencing before the fix.

CDRW/DVDROM Driver or Corrupt under Vista/XP

For a few weeks now I have been puzzling over why my CDRW/DVD ROM driver refuses to load under Windows Vista.  I naively assumed that I needed to find a replacement driver from the manufacturer (IBM in my case), or perhaps my drive was bad. 

After replacing my laptop docking station and the drive unit , I could still not mount the drive, and the device manager gave me the following error:

Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)

As a last ditch effort I Google'd the error and came across the following KB article:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/812489/en-us

This solved my issue. [:)]

Tools of the Trade

Anyone who knows me, or has been reading my blog of late must know that I have had my head buried in my new job. A career change certainly has its rewards, but also involves a learning curve. Since my time is precious of late (no surprise that blogging has taken a back seat), I thought a good theme for a blog post would entail the tools that save me time. My new role involves more client face time – meetings, time on the road etc, in fact I have never seen my work calendar with so many occupied blocks of time, so my dependency on keeping my schedule in order has never been more important. Below is a list of the software applications that make my career that little bit easier to manage every day….

Microsoft Exchange 2007 – Yes, I hear the groans, but before I receive the comments about rigid IT departments who break out into a rash with the mere mention of Microsoft Exchange, let me tell you why the latest version – Exchange 2007 – is so productive. No matter what anyone says, I refuse to believe that any other mail server is as feature rich as Exchange. Taking aside the fact that Exchange is only happy when tied at the hip with Active Directory, in my opinion it is hands down the best messaging platform. Exchange has provided Outlook Web Access since version 2000, and the newest version still provides the same rich AJAX-like-user interface (introduced long before AJAX was a common term) to emulate the rich client version in a web browser. The new version integrates with SharePoint, allowing me to access my document libraries from anywhere on the Internet. Since version 2003, Exchange has supported MAPI over HTTP, and because my employer is nice, I am able to access my mailbox, calendar, and tasks using Outlook on my work laptop at home, as if I never left the office. Finally, my favorite part about Exchange – I can synchronize with my Windows mobile device, so can receive push email, calendar and tasks whilst on the road – how nice is that?

Outlook 2007 – I cannot talk about Exchange without mentioning its partner in crime – Outlook. Once again, find me an email client that can do half of what Outlook can (Outlook Express does not count because it is technically Outlook on a diet). I mentioned MAPI over HTTP above, which I use constantly when away from the office. 2007 includes an RSS feed aggregator, and like OWA, Outlook 2007 now connects with SharePoint to access document libraries, task lists and calendars. If you are an SMS hound, you can also send and receive SMS messages using the Outlook Mobile Services. Personally, I think the Internet Calendars feature is a lifesaver – I can access my personal Google calendars and overlay my off work schedule with my daytime schedule to see what the week has in store.

Windows Mobile – My Pocket PC phone combo (HTC PPC 6700) cost me a chunk of change when I brought it, but almost a year later, I never regret my decision. I cannot count the number of times I have been away from my computer and needing to get access to important information in an email, calendar information, or contact information. I think of my PPC as an extension to the office –the other day I was stuck in traffic on the way to a client meeting. So, I called my boss for my client’s telephone number, so I could inform them I would be late, and he was able to email it to me without having to relay numbers over the phone.

Google Apps for Your Domain – For a while, I was hosting an Exchange server at home to look after my email, mainly because I wanted email at my own domain name and I could not stand the half-baked web clients offered by the cheapest hosting clients. Only problem was is that, although Exchange is very nice, it is a problem when something goes wrong. Not so long back, I remember pulling an all nighter trying to get my server back online after a disk crash. When I heard about GAFYD – free email hosting for your domain email, I decided to let Google take the responsibility of backing up my email and worrying about offline issues. As far as everyone else is concerned, nothing changed; they can still email me at the same robgarrett.com email address. However, I get the feature rich web client of Gmail to access my domain-hosted email. No more headaches if my broadband connection goes down, or concerns with hardware redundancy.

Google Calendar – My wife and I used Google calendar long before I switched to GAFYD, which also uses the same calendar engine. Google calendar provides me, and the family, with a nice UI for shared calendars, and because it is Google, I can search for any appointment in seconds. Prior to Google, my wife and I were in constant battle over miscommunication of appointments – paper calendars were lost, emails about upcoming appointments went astray, and I found out about most planned events on the evening before they happened. I guess you can say that Google saved my marriage.

Foldershare – There is nothing more frustrating than finding out that all-important file is on another PC and you forgot to copy the darn thing over before a big meeting. Fortunately, there is Foldershare. FS synchronizes files between multiple computers of your choice, and I use this application exclusively to manage access to my important files.

Groove 20007 – Much like Foldershare, Groove enabled me to synchronize my files with other computers and peers, only Groove has many additional features. For one, Groove permits collaboration against SharePoint document libraries. So, my peers and I can work on documents together and when ready I can synchronize the changes to our company SharePoint server for archival.

I could go on, many more products exist that enable me to shave vital minutes off my day, but the above list contains the main tenants. Between these applications, I can collaborate on work items, schedule appointments, stay in touch with the office, plan my weekends, and gain access to all information when working remote – pretty cool.

DisableCertChk and WM5

[tags:Windows Mobile]

At last! I found the solution to Active-stink complaining about an invalid SSL certificate during server sync (my company uses wildcard certificates – not supported on WM5).

Surprisingly (or not), the registry on Windows Mobile devices is very familiar if you have ever looked at the registry on a regular PC. Anyways, to disable Cert Checking, you navigate to the following location:

Hkey_Current_UserSoftwareMicrosoftActiveSyncPartners

Here you should notice 2 sub-keys, both with a unique UID. One is set up for the ActiveSync Partnership with your PC, the other is set up for the partnership with your Exchange server. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to distinguish between the two. Simply highlight one of them, and look at the different values. You’ll see pretty quickly which one is for your Exchange server. While the partner key for your Exchange server is highlighted, create a new value with the following

parameters
Type: DWORD
Name: secure
Value: 0

Thanks to Ben Winzenz, you saved me going bald dude.

http://winzenz.blogspot.com/2006/03/hacking-your-windows-mobile-50.html

Google Custom Search

You just gotta love Google

I thought the Google nerds were cool when I found out that I could display their search result in my own site (not that I use it because CS comes with packaged search). When I found out that I could host my domain email at Google apps I was ecstatic because I could dump my complicated Exchange setup.  I use Google Adsense to make me some pocket money from visitors to my site, and of course, I rely upon Google’s main search to get me through my day job as a software developer.  So when I heard about Google Customized Search, I just had to take a looksy.

I first heard about Google customized search thanks to an episode on DotNetRocks (side note: if you’re a .NET developer then you just have to listen to this Podcast) with guest Dan Appleman.  Dan is the owner of SearchDotNet.com – a site which is a dedicated search portal for anything .NET related. 

So what is it?  Well it’s what the name suggests, Google customized search is a new application to provide customized Google search results based on indexed web sites of your choice.  In Dan’s case, his site aggregates Google results for anything .NET related.  The bets part is that I know the search results from Dan’s site are credible because Dan hand picked the list of sites that Google displays results.

So, I just had to try this out.  You may now notice an additional search box, drop down list, and submit button on the title bar of my site:

These new controls enable users to search for customized content from Google.  Of course, RobGarrett.com is present in the list of sites to display results, but a number of credible web sites with information on SharePoint and MOSS are in the list for the SharePoint/MOSS custom search.

So why would you come to my site when http://Google.com/ is less to type in the address bar? (woot, you don’t have me linked aggregated via RSS? Wassamatter with you?)  Simple, when you execute a search in one of my customized search engines you can be sure that the results you get are likely to get you what you are looking for as a reader pretty quickly.  No more trawling through half-baked web sites that have have stale content, or content copied from more credible sites, simply come to my site and find out about SharePoint from well respected expects on the subject.

What’s in it for me?  Well, aside of attracting more visitors to my site, the search results display adverts linked to my Adsense account.  So when you search via me you’re helping to put money in my pocket to pay the electric bill [;)]. 

Receive Blog Posts Via Email

For those of you who’s life evolves around email, this post may be of some interest.  I have recently signed up with FeedBlitz – an emailing service that disseminates blog posts to subscribers.  So, if visiting my web site is a chore (eh?), and you have no time for RSS readers (why?) then you can at least read my words of wisdom in you inbox.  Click the link below to subscribe, or visit the home page on my web site and click the FeedBlitz icon in the sidebar.

http://www.feedblitz.com/f/?Sub=172645