Monday, March 26, 2007

Time Travel to the Future by Modifying Blog Timezone Settings

It seems like some folks post & edit their blogs in the future - I've set my timezone to UTC+14:00 as a test of my theory - let's see what happens.

I've also set the time of my previous post today to 11:59 PM - I'm curious to see what happens in aggregate feeds.

Adware in Windows Genuine Advantage Promotes Vista

I launched an XP VM instance this morning in VMware Server after a recent testing install, and proceeded to update the computer. After installing Windows Genuine Advantage, I received the following advertisement on my screen, courtesy of Microsoft:

It appears that Windows Genuine Advantage - the component that is supposed to fight piracy - also doubles as Microsoft-branded adware. Nobody likes adware, especially the sneaky kind. Yech.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thunderbird vs Outlook 2007 migration in Vista

There is so much pain involved in moving to Windows Vista and/or Office 2007. I have had the opportunity to move a few computers over to Vista from XP, and I've dropped one of my monthly contracts as a result. I'll finish the migration, but I lost way too much time and money because of the following gotchas:
  1. Microsoft Outlook 2003 and earlier versions do not export data & settings properly to Microsoft Outlook 2007(specifically Personal Address Books and to a lesser degree email account settings)
  2. Vista does not maintain backward compatibility with Windows XP applications(Quicken 2005 is one of them)
  3. Dell Computer refuses to sell a new laptop to home users unless the laptop comes with Vista
  4. Hardware drivers that function with XP may or may not work with Vista(I've seen the most problems with USB devices)
  5. Vista crashes Windows Explorer frequently because of DEP(Data Execution Prevention) bugs
  6. Vista is very slow, even with new OEM hardware that has Vista pre-installed.
Here's one way to migrate from Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2007 on Vista:
  1. Connect both computers(old & new) to the same network
  2. Create an empty new shared folder on your old machine that is
    readable & writable by all users.
  3. Verify you can connect to the shared folder from your Vista
    machine.(push Winkey+R, then type
  4. Create a new folder on the share & delete the new folder as a test.
  5. Run Programs | System Tools | Windows Easy Transfer with both machines connected the network & step through the wizard.
  6. Go do something else for several hours while both of your computers are running the transfer.
  7. When the transfer is completed create a new mail settings profile on the Vista machine from control panel - enable the option to be prompted for which mail profile to be used upon Outlook 2007 startup.
  8. Start Outlook 2007 using the new profile. Manually input your email account settings.
  9. Open up the .PST file that was (hopefully) copied over from your Windows Easy Transfer. Manually copy (that's right - one subfolder or group at a time) your items from the old .PST file into your new Outlook profile. Don't try to copy the parent Inbox folder or you'll get an error message _after_ the copy fails. You'll need to _Select All_ the individual emails in the parent Inbox folder and copy them to your new Inbox folder. Afterward any child folders of the parent Inbox folder can be copied.
  10. Once you've copied over your Contacts, Calendar Items, Tasks, Notes, and emails you'll need to make sure your contacts are used as Address Book lookups from the To: field in new messages.
  11. Right Click on a contact folder >> choose Properties >> Outlook Address Book >> Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book. Repeat for any additional Contacts folders to be used for addressing e-mail.

Unnecessary complicated and painful in order to grant the user similar functionality that existed on the previous machine.

Here's how I migrated another user from Thunderbird running on XP to Thunderbird running on Vista:

  1. Download & install MozBackup on both old & new machines.
  2. On the old machine run MozBackup to create a backup of Thunderbird mail account settings.
  3. On the old machine run MozBackup a second time to create a backup of Thunderbird mail messages, address books, extensions, and other settings.
  4. On the new machine run MozBackup and choose restore. Point to the file created in step 2.
  5. On the new machine run MozBackup and choose restore. Point to the file created in step 3.
That's it. I recommend Thunderbird over Outlook 2007 for ease of migration.

I'm sure we'll see service packs from Microsoft released before the end of 2007 due to the premature release of their new office suite & operating system. Stay away until the Service Packs are available!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

PDF Security Features with PDFCreator

Several applications will let you create PDF files in Windows for free. Many contain nagware. The Open Source PDFCreator has a version that eschews toolbars and fluff, and includes features that allow 128-bit encryption for PDF files you'd like to protect with passwords and other security options. Here's a tutorial/walkthrough on using security within PDFCreator.