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Showing posts from 2009

Stop the Exchange account getting set as default in Outlook

By default in a Microsoft Small Business Server environment, every time a user logs into their client PC a script is run which (among other things) changes their Outlook profile, setting their default account to the Exchange server. This can be a major pain for users who have a POP account(s) setup as default in their Outlook profile.  It means that each time they login they must go into Tools | Accounts and set their POP account to be default. There is thankfully a fairly straightforward fix… Open REGEDIT on the client computer (Start | Run | regedit) and navigate to HKEY Local Machine\Software\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\ClientSetup. Create a DWORD entry here named “NoTransportOrder” and give this a value of “1”. The transport order will not be changed next time the user logs in. In my opinion it’s way better to have your clients setup to use Exchange and have Exchange send and receive email for them.  Having clients collecting POP is messy.  But in the real wor

Where are SCANPST.EXE and/or SCANOST.EXE?

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I sometimes have to deal with customer computers whose Outlook PST or OST files have become corrupted.  Very often the fix is to run SCANPST.EXE on the offending PST/OST file.   However, every time I go to do this I forget where the two executable files are.  Here is where they are on a Vista machine running Office 2007: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12 I hope this helps.

I won’t be buying a Seagate product for a long time

I’ve been in the IT business for over 10 years now and for a long time regarded Seagate as brand to be relied on.  They seemed to have a high level of design integrity and quality.  The FreeAgent Pro external drives were fantastic – fast, quiet, reliable.  The 750GB ST3750640NS internal drives were solid and speedy.  But things have changed. I have never been so singularly disappointed with any IT products as I have with the hard drives Seagate has produced this year.  Apparently they have shifted their production facility to the far east.  Whatever the reason, there is absolutely no excuse for the staggering level of shoddy build quality of their current crop of hard drives. I would say that in the last year approximately 80% of the PC’s, Servers, and NASes I have re-sold with Seagate hard drives and upgraded with Seagate hard drives have had drive failures.  The figure may even be bigger. To make matters worse, their RMA policy requires they receive the faulty drive before they

Using VoIP with SmoothWall

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I’ve been playing with SmoothWall Express (Polar) recently and am generally pretty impressed.  However, my Linksys SPA921 IP Phone hadn’t been working.  I decided to turn my attention to it today. The phone wouldn’t give a dial tone at all unless I used the “SIP Proxy” option in SmoothWall, however, that wouldn’t allow any outgoing calls.  I tried creating various exceptions in the firewall, even setting the phone to be an “always allowed machine”, all to no avail. Then I hit on the solution… I had a BT ADSL router connecting to the internet performing NAT, the SmoothWall connected to this performing NAT, and the IP Phone connecting to the SmoothWall as shown in the diagram below: SIP doesn’t appear to play nicely with this double-NAT arrangement.  So I changed the WAN configuration on my BT ADSL router to run in “Bridged” mode and then configured the “Red” (internet) interface on the SmoothWall to run in PPPoE mode.  This required configuring the BT broadband username and pa

Steve Ballmer is completely sane

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a genius.  You think I’m exaggerating?  Take a look at these videos. Actually, to be fair, I find watching these and anything to do with Steve Ballmer completely fascinating!  He really is larger than life and a force to be reckoned with. Ladies and gentlemen, STEVE BALLMER! Developers, developers, developers, developers…! I’m a PC and I love this company! Selling Windows 1.0 Selling Windows XP

Burn ISO files in Windows 7

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Just discovered a great feature in Windows 7, thanks to www.downloadsquad.com ...  Rather than having to install dedicated burning software, you can now burn an ISO file directly to disc from within Windows 7.  To do this just double-click on the ISO file and the following window will open: After popping in a blank disc, choose the drive to which you want to burn, opt for verifying the file after burning if you require… Windows takes care of the rest.  It’s certainly basic but it’s perfectly functional and does everything I need it to.  Nice one Microsoft!

Office 2003 – fix SKU011.CAB annoyance

I recently setup a new user on a PC someone else had been using.  The PC had Office 2003 Professional installed. Upon running Outlook 2003 for the first time Office looks for a file off the original install CD and will not proceed without it.  The file in question is “SKU011.CAB”.  Other Office applications, e.g. Word, will continue to work even if the file is missing but Outlook refuses to play ball. Unfortunately, the client couldn’t find their 2003 install CD.  I got my own and searched it for “SKU011.CAB” but it wasn’t to be found.  How strange! Eventually I found the fix on www.technotes.co.uk which involves changing a registry key so as to prevent Office from looking for the CD.  As always, making changes to the registry can be a very risky business if you’re not sure what you’re at.  Always take a backup of the registry by creating a Restore Point using System Restore… Start | Run | regedit Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE | Software | Microsoft | Office | 11.0 | D

The Need for Speed with DOSBox

I recently stumbled upon my beloved old copy of the absolutely fantastic original "The Need for Speed". This fabulous game came out in 1994 and blew me away. My sister, her boyfriend (now husband) and I spend a crazy number of hours playing this game. It rocked! How to get it to play now though...? Well, I've used the wonderful DOSBox before for playing Doom 2 and Commander Keen and the like. This software runs in Windows (XP for example) and emulates a DOS environment with an old SoundBlaster 16 soundcard. Would it work with TNFS (The Need for Speed)? After a lot of trial and error I finally got it working after getting a tip from a forum on a site called "alldeaf" (www.alldeaf.com). I hadn't mounted the CDROM drive properly. Here's what you need to do: Create a folder/directory on root of your C: drive called "tnfs" (i.e. c:\tnfs) Run DOSBox Type "mount c c:\tnfs" Type "mount d d:\ -t cdrom" Type d: Type "in

An Exabyte sounds like a lot

Recently I was watching Ocean’s 13 which passed the time reasonably pleasantly.  There was a supposedly awesome computer which our handsome heroes had to overcome called “The Greco”.  Apparently it stored its data “in a field of Exabytes”. This got me thinking about all the different storage metrics and the fact many of us can get them confused.  I decided to pop the following list down for your viewing pleasure… Name Abbreviation Amount bit b Fundamental unit of data storage Nibble   4 bits Byte B 8 bits Kilobyte kB 1024 Bytes Megabyte MB 1024 Kilobytes Gigabyte GB 1024 Megabytes Terabyte TB 1024 Gigabytes Petabyte PB 1024 TB Exabyte EB 1024 PB

Disabling AutoPlay in Windows

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By default in Windows, AutoPlay kicks in when one inserts a CD-ROM, DVD, or USB drive containing some content - e.g. documents, images, music, or video.  Depending on your version of Windows and the content on the device, Windows may auto-run an installer (e.g. an Office install CD) or ask you what to do (e.g. open a folder to view files, play the music files with Media Player). Some people find this feature annoying.  Another, more important issue is that the Conficker worm uses the feature to automatically jump from an infected USB drive onto the host PC. To turn of the feature please follow one of the two methods... Windows XP: Download TweakUI.exe... http://www.artifact.ie/applications/tools Install TweakUI.exe and then run the application Expand (click +) "My Computer", then expand "AutoPlay" Click on the "Types" option on the left and un-tick all boxes Also, click on the "Drives" option on the left and un-tick al

Patching against the Conficker worm

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The Win32Conficker worm takes advantage of a vulnerability in the Server service of pretty much all versions of Windows and allows a remote attacker to take control of the infected computer. According to Microsoft "Most anti-virus software could detect and block the Conficker worm, so if you have updated anti-virus software on your computer, you are at a much lower risk of being infected by the Conficker worm." However, it is also recommended to ensure your Windows OS is patched so that you are not vulnerable to the threat.  In order to ensure you are patched against this nasty piece of work please follow the steps below... 1. Find out what version of Windows you are running Hold down the Winlogo button (looks like the Windows icon) and tap once on R Type "winver" and hit Enter You will be able to read off what version of Windows you have, e.g. in the image below I can tell that I have Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3. 2. Download

What version of Office do I have?

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Prior to Microsoft Office 2007, finding out what version you were running was very straightforward.  You clicked on the “Help” menu bar item and then on “About”.  Generally you would do this to find out not just what version you were running (i.e. Office 2003) but what Service Packs had been installed (e.g. Service Pack 1). Recently I needed to quickly find out whether a customer’s Office 2007 installation had been upgraded with Service Pack 1.  I was stumped for a short while!  Where on earth was one to find the equivalent? To save you the hassle, here’s the answer… Click on the new “Office Button”, choose the relevant “Options” button at the very bottom of the menu, e.g. if you’re in Excel it will be “Excel Options”.  Then click “Resources”, and finally “About” – in fact you can probably see all you need to know at the bottom of the “Resources” screen without having to click “About”. I’m sure they could have buried it a little more if they really put their minds to it!

Zoho Writer

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Online document editors of some sort or another seem to be flavour of the month.  While many will automatically hop on the Google Docs bus, I heartily recommend taking a look at Zoho Writer. Although technically in beta stage, in it's latest incarnation Zoho Writer 2.0 is a rather appealing proposition.  Zoho Writer is one of a suite of productivity and business tools.  There is also a spreadsheet application (Zoho Sheet), a PowerPoint-like application (Zoho Show), and loads more.   Zoho Writer allows you to create, edit, preview, and print new documents from scratch.  If required, your document can be exported to a variety of file formats including: .doc, .docx, .pdf, .odf, .rtf, .txt, .sxw, and .html. If the document you need to work on is already in Word, or some other format that's just fine.  Zoho Writer can import files in a variety of formats, similar to those it can export.  There is an upload file size limit of 10MB which may pose a problem for very large doc

ESET Smart Security v4.0 and NOD32 v4.0

ESET Smart Security v4.0 and NOD32 v4.0 are being released shortly. artifact is a reseller of ESET security products. If you would like to know more please contact us via our website . The changes that have been made are: General Added support for SSL under Microsoft Windows 2000 Improved support for Microsoft Windows Live Mail v4 (beta) Added import and export of root SSL certificates for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera Software Opera web browsers Added ability to edit user-defined servers for threat signature updates Added "Smart Filtering" of logs to provide improved view of data Antivirus & Antispyware Exclusions now supported for mapped network drives Added "Smart Scan" option for quick and effective scans ESET Personal Firewall Added support for UAC under Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Added 1863/TCP for Windows Live Messenger/MSN Messenger for Rules unde

3 Mobile Broadband

Just noticed that 3 have increased the monthly download cap of their basic mobile broadband service to 15GB.  This will set you back €19.99 inc. VAT per month. I must say I’ve been rather impressed by the service I get from my 3 mobile broadband dongle thingie.  The coverage in Navan and Dublin has never failed me and it even works on the delightful 109 bus between those two points! It wouldn’t even give a sniff of a signal anywhere I went in Wexford, however, and roaming broadband in Berlin proved unsuccessful but overall it’s a very good service. I don’t depend on the service on a daily basis, I use it when I’m stuck, travelling, or out at a customer’s site.  E.g. I only used about 7MB out of the 15GB allowance last month!  Perhaps if I had to depend on it I mightn’t have such a glowing report but, such as it has been for me, I give it a hearty thumbs up.

Rotating your screen

The other day I was messing around with my laptop and inadvertently hit a combination of keys that rotated my screen right by 90 degrees.  I had seen this facility a long time ago and I had forgotten what the keystrokes were. Inevitably what followed was a rapid googling of the appropriate keyboard shortcut to restore normality.  The shortcuts are simple, fairly logical, and I include them here for your convenience.  You never know, you might actually need to rotate your screen around one day… CTRL + ALT + Up Arrow – Normal View CTRL + ALT + Down Arrow – Rotate by 180 degrees (upside down) CTRL + ALT + Left Arrow – Rotate Left by 90 degrees CTRL + ALT + Right Arrow – Rotate right by 90 degrees Note: apparently the shortcuts can vary and depend on your graphics card manufacturer, some seem to respond to CTRL + SHIFT + R.

Happy New Year!

Forgot to say, I hope you have a truly fantastic 2009!

Vista File Permission Tantrums

I came across a rather interesting/annoying problem in Windows Vista today – just like any other day with Vista really... When one tried to save a file to a mapped drive the following error message would appear: "There has been a network or file permission error. The network connection may be lost" Very odd. I disconnected and reconnected the mapped drive, same thing. I checked and double-checked permissions – both share-level and NTFS permissions were all adequate. I applied as many updates/patches as I could find for Windows and Norton. Strangely, one could copy a file from, say, the desktop into the mapped drive without any issue. But if one tried to right-click and create a new file/folder on the mapped drive the same error came up. After trawling some forums I noticed that Offline Files reared its head quite a few times. I thought I'd try disabling it as it wasn't being used... To do this: Hit Start, type "offline files" into the search box and th