Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft


Outlook will not open attachments with specific file names

Sometimes, when you’re trying to open an attachement from Outlook, it will refuse to do so, telling you something about insufficient disk space or lack of permissions. This will almost always happen with an attachment filename that you’ve opened many times before. For example, when you receive a weekly report called “Weekly Report.xls”.

Everytime you open a file, Outlook creates a local copy of the file in a temp folder. Next time you will open a file with the same name, it will add a (02) in the file name and so on, until it reaches (99). After that, it will not let you open the file. The solution to this annoying problem is actually pretty simple. All you need to do, is empty the temp folder and restart Outlook.

In order to do so, open up Registry Editor* and locate the following key: OutlookSecureTempFolder. 
You can either CTRL+F to find it, or navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Security. Please note that 11.o refers to Office 2003. I don’t know whether this problem continues to appear in newer Office versions, but if you come accross it, instead of 11.0, you are looking for a 14.0.

Double click on the key, and copy the folder location. Now paste this in an explorer window and open the folder. Select all the files in there, delete them and restart Outlook. You’re done. Simple enough yes? This is a well known problem and it has been documented many times already.

While easy to solve, this problem can become really annoying when it appears often. So we are going to make our lives a bit simpler and automate this proccess.

First, we need to change the folder’s location to somethig simpler. I created a folder named “OutlookTemp” and changed the registry key to the new location.

In order for our changes to take effect, we need to restart our computer. Do that and then open Outlook. Find a couple of emails with attachements and open them. Now, if you navigate to the folder you selected as your new Outlook temp folder, you will see that there are already some files in there.

In the image above you notice that I opened the same attachment twice and it created second file.

If you are using a program to maintain your computer, such as CCleaner or System Mechanic, there might be an option to include this folder, so it will be cleaned up automatically. Since I don’t use such programs, I found a simple script that performs just this task:

set folder=”C:\OutlookTemp”
cd /d %folder%
for /F “delims=” %%i in (‘dir /b’) do (rmdir “%%i” /s/q || del “%%i” /s/q)
All you need to do is put the three lines above in a text file, save it as OutlookTempClean.bat (or any other name you like) and you are ready to go.
If you so wish, you can schedule this batch file to run once a month, or whenever you feel like) and you will not have to worry yourself again.
*I hope you understand that messing around with Registry Editor can cause problems with your computer and you need to be really careful. Yes, treat this sentence as a disclaimer.

Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on an SSD

While I personally see absolutelly no reason to have WHS around, there seems to be a lot of people who do. One of those, a relative, called me the other day because his box was so slow that was almost unresponsive.

I tracked down the problem to a faulty HDD, so I told him to go buy a new one and we would set up the machine from the beginning. Although my instructions were clear, instead of buying a SATA disk, he went ahead and bought a 120 GB SSD, because and I quote “They are faster”.

At this point I have a confession to make. I never intended to make a fresh install. I was hoping I could clone the old disk (it was not completely bust) onto the new one and save me from a lot of work. I have used this tactic before, but only from smaller to larger disks. I knew there were ways to clone on a smaller disk, so I thought to give it a go.

After I had successfully cloned the old disk on the SSD, I put it back on the server, and – as you might have expected – it refused to boot. The message I was seeing was something about a device that was not found and it prompted me to repair the installation from the Windows CD. I was never able to do that mind you. The reason?

For some reason, Microsoft has decided that you need at least 160GB in order to installl WHS.

That’s right. For a 10-12 GB installation, your HDD needs to be at least 160 GB. Well done Microsoft! As you probably guessed, there are a lot of people with the same problem and thankfully there is a solution.

Windows Home Server (as other versions of Windows) can be installed unattended with the use of a special text file called answer file. Sean Daniel has written an excellent post on how to do that and I can testify that following his post, I was able to install WHS on a smaller disk.

Although Sean is talking about a specific piece of hardware, I assure you this method works perfectly. Make sure that the drive you want to install to is formatted!


Windows 8 CP: Activation and DotNet 3.5


When Windows 8 Developer Preview came out, I downloaded and installed them on a spare PC to check them out. Appart from getting a genral feel of the new Metro UI and fooling around, there was not much else to do, so I quickly set that PC aside and went back to my everyday life.

A few days ago though, Consuper Preview came out. Big news, right? So naturally, I downloaded the iso from here, brought back that spare PC and installed. I was expecting to see some changes and changes I did see.

First of all, it looks more like an operating system compared to DP (oh come on, I can’t be the only one who smiled right now) which looked like a demo of an OS. Web Store is now functional, with a good deal of apps to try out, but most importantly you now have solitaire available! That’s right. You don’t have proper Windows, unless you can play a game of solitaire.

I do not plan to go into much detail about Windows 8 themselves. Over the last few days, there has been a ton of reviews, presentations and posts about them, so whatever it might have been that I wanted to say, it has probably already been said. However, one thing that stuck into my mind the first time (with Developer Preview) and did not change, was that Windows 8 would be great for a tablet, or something with a touch screen in general, but I don’t think I could get used to this style of working on a daily basis. 

Anyway, I have a couple of tips for you, hoping to save you some time and frustration.

1) Install Microsoft Dot Net 3.5 (or 2.0)

One of the first things I had to do, was to install Mouse Without Borders, a nice little program straight out of the Microsoft Garage, that allows you to control many PCs with the same keyboard/mouse. Unfortunatelly, MWB requires DotNet 2.0, while Windows 8 come with version 4.0. For some reason, unknown to me and although there was nothing wrong with my internet connection, I could not seem to be able to download DotNet. Searching for a solution, I came across this post. What worked, was not the procedure describesd in the post, but what a comenter suggested. Open an elevated command prompt and type:

dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /all /source:YourWindowsCDPath\sources\sxs. HTH

You are good to go.

2) Activate Windows

Make sure your date and time are set correctly, otherwise you will never activate your copy. Simple, but I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what was going on, before I thought of checking the time.



Restoring a PC from Windows Home Server

Everybody tells you about the importance of keeping a back up (hey, even Jesus saves!!!) , with a ton of suggestions and practices, ranging from simply using a USB drive for your most important documents and files  to using special software to more complex solutions. The thing is however, that when you own more than one PC you would prefer an easy, almost automated back up solution, right?


This is exactly what a friend thought, a friend who is crazy enough to own and operate six different boxes (without counting his two laptops), and after some internet research, he bought another machine and a copy of Windows Home Server and called me to set it up, some months ago.

Yesterday, he called me to tell me that one of his machines (a two year old Dell) crashed and he was waiting for a replacement HDD and asked me if  I could stop by to help him set it up again. Having only used Norton Ghost (with a 98% success rate mind you) I thought it would take half an hour tops, but that was not the case at all… I don’t want to tire you with boring ranting, so I will describe the procedure that worked. Note here, that the WHS manual says nothing of value (except “Follow on screen instructions” 😛 ) – read my verdict at the end of this post.

Before you read any further, I am talking about a complete restore. If you just want to bring back the porn you accidentally deleted, look elsewhere 😉

Step 1: Boot the machine you want to restore with the WHS restore cd. Microsoft claims that in 90% of home networks it will get in touch with Home Server and prompt you to start restoring your PC. What Microsoft forgot to tell us, is the fact that if your machines do not use DHCP, but have fixed IPs instead you belong to the 10%, so you’re not able to communicate with the server. Just go over to the server box and change the IP setting to DHCP. Everything else on your network will lose the server, but the machine you want to restore will find it… I did not try it my self, but someone said that he just connected the two machines with an ethernet cable. Crazy? Yes! Worked? Yes!

Step 2: You will be presented with a list of backups and after you chose which one you want to restore, the procedure will start. In my case the machine had a single HDD with a single partition, so things were rather simple. If you have a different set-up, you might want to be careful what you restore where, since all data in the destination disk will be lost.

Step 3 : I wish you don’t have to read this step, because in theory, everything worked out as supposed and you only have to press “Finish” to reboot into your newly restored machine. Before you reboot, take some time to review boot.ini. There is a button there, that will open a notepad with your OLD boot.ini. Now it is a good time to stop for a while and start thinking about the past. No, don’t laugh, I am dead serious. Think what you are trying to restore. In my case, as I said, it was a Dell box. Dell boxes, usually mean that apart from windows partition there is another, smaller and hidden partition that you use to restore your PC to factory settings. Does that ring a bell? HP does that too, Fujitsu Siemens does that too. If you are trying to restore after an HDD crash, chances are that this little partition will not  exist in your new HDD take a look at the following boot.ini :

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=”Window XP Professional” /noexecute=optout /fastdetect

Do you see the (2)’s? It means that your old windows installation was on partition number 2, which of course no longer exists, so you cannot boot. You have to change those (2)’s into (1)’s and you will be fine. Really, this is the only thing you have to do… This little thing that Microsoft could have told us about, but did not…

There are many ways to do that. If you are lucky enough and have a newer build of WHS, you can edit it in notepad (when you press Review/Check boot.ini at the end of the restore) and save it and be done with it. If not, when you try to save, you will be informed that boot.ini is a read only file and you will have to save your changes under a different file name. So, do exactly that. You can then use something to access your disk, delete the old boot.ini and rename the file you just saved into boot.ini. What you use depends on your personal taste and resources. I only had a windows XP cd, so I booted with that, pressed R to go into recovery console and worked from there. You can also use a Linux live cd, one of those special boot disks (like Hiren’s), anything that will offer you access to your HDD.

I spent many hours trying to figure out those things I wrote above. See, when you restore and fail, the first thing that comes on your mind is the case you did something wrong, missed a step, chose the wrong option, so you try it again. That means time wasted… No matter how convenient I find the possibility to manage all your backups centrally, store files (WHS is more than a backup solution) and do all those neat little things, but for fuck’s sake, how do you expect an average user to come up with all those ideas and manage to do the simplest thing? Why on Earth don’t you provide all this info in the damn manual? You want me to propose your product to my clients? Seriously??


Internet explorer 8 and Flash…

I use Firefox. Let me say that again. I USE FIREFOX!

However, there are people who still use IE, either because they don’t know of any other browsers* or because they like it. It’s not my job to convence them otherwise. So, when somebody asks me to help them update their laptop, I will not change any of their programs, including browsers.

So, to set True Story Mode on, I was given an ACER laptop and I was told to check it a bit, see if there’s anything wrong with it, you know, the usual process. One of the things I generally tend to do, is updating the machines people give me for two reasons: a) There are some critical updates that will make a windows box a bit safer and more stable and b) because someone who has paid for an OS should enjoy all the services provided by the developer (sic). When it asked me to install IE8, I did what I had to do: I asked the owner…

Yes, of cource I want that! A collegue installed it and said it is fantastic! 

Whatever… I’ve had problems of my own with IE8, but it was on a Vista Buisness machine, this laptop was with XP, so I did what I was told. Well, some time later, the laptop was updated, the owner had the brand new browser that was supposed to be fantastic and I was done.

Well… almost done… One of the firtst things the owner did when I gave the laptop back, was visiting mySpace, to check out some hot new band or something. In order to view the mySpace music player, you have to upgrade your flash player. No problem, it’s been done many times, piece of cake, right?

Wrong! The standard procedure, to install flash player 10 from within IE, will not work. At least it did not work in my case, to the point that IE froze and I could only kill the process through Task Manager. A little bit of Google search shows that many more have the same problem. To tell you the truth, I did not bother to look for a tried solution, to see what others did, I did what seemed to me more logical:

I downloaded the stand alone installer from Adobe’s site. I closed IE, run the installer and presto. Flash player was updated to version 10.

Not sure what the problem is. I really don’t care, I just wanted to get my job done and frankly why should anyone care? The average user will only follow instructions provided by the developers (in this case Adobe) and when he sees his browser freezing, will not know what to do.


So, let me say this once more: I USE FIREFOX!

PS: This is not a FF vs IE post. I know that FF has problems too, I know there are other browsers as well, I know that IE will be patched sometime soon. I just don’t like being called again because someone cannot update their flash player…

February 2019
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Yeah, I got one o’ those…

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