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Palm Treo 750v RANT

November 12th, 2007

I have finally received my Palm Treo 750v (thanks for delivering it so slowly, Expansys). What do I find when I open the box? It uses a proprietary charger socket. Not only that, but it uses a proprietary socket for data transfer as well.

What is wrong with (mini-) USB?! My last phone (an iMate sp5, hardly cutting edge these days) used USB, and it was and is massively convenient. I could plug in almost anywhere and charge up. Now I will have to make sure I always have a charger or a compatible converter with me. How aggravating is that?

I thought that Palm might have finally learnt the error of their “Not Invented Here” ways (c.f., Palm OS) but it seems not. The phone is on the verge of going back, and I will definitely never buy another Palm device again.

Mailto infinite loop + crash

November 10th, 2007

I’ve just solved a weird problem with clicking on a mailto link in an e-mail. Normally when one clicks on it, it pops up an e-mail courtesy of the default mail client, filled in with the details such as destination, subject, etc. However, on this particular machine it was opening an Internet Explorer. And then another, and then another, and another…you can see the pattern forming here. Each IE window in turn opened up another, in an infinite loop that eventually brought the machine to its knees.

I’d love to say that I sat down and worked through the problem from first principles, and then had a Eureka! moment whilst sitting in the bath. In fact, I managed to figure out a decent Google query (it’s not an easy problem to search, as the phrase “mailto” appears out of context on so many pages) and come up with this solution: http://windowsxp.mvps.org/permail.htm

I used the first reg file and hey presto, problem solved.

Do it right first time

May 31st, 2007

It never fails to amuse me when people post spam to a moderated blog. We run an automatic spam catcher that dumps most of the spam posted to the blog (several thousand per month) which does most of it, and we just have the one or two a month to deal with manually. It was a little bit of effort to set it up in the first place, but now its running its very simple to keep updated.

All systems should be like this, set them up once, and leave them running with fine tuning. The systems that are thrown together are the ones that take the most maintaining. This is why its worth the time to always lab test systems, then do a controlled deployment, and then finally do the actual deployment, it saves time…

Office PC Performance Series: Automated Weekly Defrag

November 29th, 2006

Office PCs tend to get used heavily during the day, so that there is no time for basic maintenance tasks. These tasks tend not to get done, and performance of the machine is gradually degraded. Then follows the standard call to the IT helpdesk “My computer is too slow, I need a new one”.

The most common of these tasks is defragmenting the hard drive. Educating users to be able to do this on their own is time consuming, and most will plead lack of time. However, there is an easier way than walking around all of the machines in the evening and starting the defrag yourself.

A Windows Scheduled Task can take care of running the defrag for you. Open up the Control Panel, double-click on “Scheduled Tasks” and then on “Add Scheduled Task”


This brings up a Wizard, which will help you create the defrag task. Click on “Next”, then “Browse…” on the subsequent window. Type in “C:\Windows\System32\defrag.exe” in to the “File name” box. Click “Next” to move on, and then select “Weekly” so that the task runs once a week. “Next” again and select “Friday” as the day, and an after-hours time, say 22:30 . Now enter the Local Administrator username and Password and click “Next” again. Check “Open advanced properties for this task when I click Finish” and then click “Finish”.

Now you need to add to the command the name of the drive to be defragmented. If your machines are all installed with “C:” as the default drive, add C: to the end of the defrag.exe command in the “Run:” text box.


And that’s about it. Next time we’ll talk about company-wide scheduled reboots.

BSOD Screen Saver

November 14th, 2006

Microsoft have a released a syinternals BSOD screensaver

Fixed Price Small Business Server Installation

November 11th, 2006

We are now pleased to be able to offer a fixed-price on a Microsoft Small Business Server Installation. Based on a 25-person office and installing new server hardware,

Server 1150 (inc. mem/disk u/g) with SBS 2003 R2
25 Client Access Licenses 1075
SSL Certificate 80
Install time 450

TOTAL: 2755.00

That’s a miniscule 110.20 per user!

Click here to e-mail us or call 0845 226 3103 and we’ll call you back!

Data migrations, backup hardware and software are extra, and will be priced competitively on a per-customer basis. SBS installs can vary in price, both up and down, but this figure should give you a good idea of what it will cost.
To receive email SBS requires a existing broadband connection with static IP address, it can work with POP3 accounts but that is not recommended.

A domain name is also required, we can help you choose and register this.

Microsoft Exchange Server Performance Problems with Entourage

October 25th, 2006

If your Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange environment was installed correctly, then your Exchange server has been sitting there working away, and only rebooted for the service packs and hotfixes that require it.

On the other hand, if you have any Entourage clients using HTTP to connect, you might have noticed your Exchange queues and disk queues getting rather high, and performance dropping like a stone. Microsoft have released a Knowledge Base article about this but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The article describes an issue where a mailbox has been moved, either between storage groups or servers. The mail has therefore been moved from STM, the MIME store, to EDB, the MAPI store. And this means that the MAPI data has to be re-converted to MIME data on-the-fly.

For Outlook Web Access and ActiveSync users the amount of data involved is small, and performance problems don’t occur. However, for Entourage users, the story is different. The reason is that there is another issue, this time without a KB, where Entourage Cached Mode isn’t working. Because of this every time a folder is opened in Entourage, the whole folder is converted from MAPI to MIME in Exchange.

The big issue is that it’s only a temporary conversion, so every single folder change triggers this. I’ll repeat that: every single folder change triggers a conversion of the entire folder from MAPI to MIME.

Performance Hit

Today I saw a DL580G2 with two Xeon 3Ghz processors, 4GB of memory, an Ultra 320 disk array (with 256mb of cache) and 85 mailboxes reduced to far below the performance of a P3 1.4 with 1Gb of memory, a single IDE drive and 150 mailboxes, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Since Microsoft Exchange 2007 doesn’t have the separate EDB and STM, I wonder if they are reverting back to a MAPI connection for the next email client in Office for OS X?

Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for a resolution on this problem.

The space shuttle launch as viewed from the International Space Station

October 24th, 2006

Not work-related but worth mentioning.


Windows Vista RC2 released

October 8th, 2006

Windows Vista RC2 is now available for general download here http://download.windowsvista.com/preview/rc2/en/download.htm

How our network gives us a two-site virtual office

October 3rd, 2006

I thought it would be fun to put together a diagram showing how our network is configured. It’s a two-site layout that also gives us roaming access whenever we’re on-site (or having some R&R).

We have started using Skype to give us an open voice line, which is much cheaper than paying traditional phone providers. It also allows us to use funky hardware such as this Linksys handset.

The diagram is available here: