Posts for #Software

My virus scanner of choice had been NOD32 for a pretty long while now, but they don’t seem to be very supportive so far of Vista users. Same goes for ZoneAlarm Pro, which I had been using as a personal firewall solution, mainly for those situations where my laptop runs outside my own network. While the ESET guys (makers of NOD32), or at least their british support franchise, had the courtesy of replying to my mails, ZoneLabs did not, to this date, answer any of my questions about their state of Vista support.

Due to these problems, I had been using the special Vista version of Trend Micro’s PC-cillin that Microsoft list on their pages and I hadn’t seen any problems. But today the Windows Live OneCare Beta of version 1.5 started, and it’s Vista compatible. So I decided to try it out. After downloading a huge amount of stuff, the installer informed me that my existing PC-cillin installation would be in the way of OneCare and it had to be removed. I okay’d that, but the uninstallation failed for no particular reason, so I cancelled the OneCare installation and uninstalled PC-cillin manually. When I restarted OneCare installation afterwards, the installation failed with the error code 0019-80070643 and the offer of further support on the web – but the support pages that I was sent to want to query a “product id” from me, which I don’t have for the OneCare product.

I’m having this really peculiar problem using the manual archiving functionality in Outlook (2007) and I’m really wondering if there’s something ridiculous I’m doing wrong, because I can’t imagine Outlook having such a horrendous bug. So if there’s anybody out there who can shed some light on the problem, I’d be grateful.

What I really want to do is simple: I have this enormous amount of mail in my Exchange account, collected over the 13-odd years I’ve been doing e-mail. I do throw mail away, but nothing that has ever been addressed to me directly, and so the volume has been ever increasing. Of course I have some folders in my hierarchy that I use for archiving purposes, and I regularly (once a year) used to move my old mail into these archive folders manually. I never wanted to trust any automatic functionality to do it for me.

I found some baffling behavior in my OneNote 2007 recently. I’m using the excellent new functionality that lets me store notebooks on my file server and open them on more than one machine. OneNote 2007 keeps automatic offline copies of these notebooks in this case, synchronizing offline changes back into the server side versions when the connection to the file server becomes available again. Really great stuff.

Problem is, it has stopped working. Well, not completely – it just started behaving completely irrationally. I have one notebook that is stored on a remote server, accessed via VPN, and that notebooks still behaves just like it should. But for a whole bunch of notebooks that are stored on my local file server (with two exceptions, see below), the mechanism doesn’t work at all any longer. As soon as my connection (to the file server) goes away, OneNote closes these notebooks (if it’s running). If OneNote is started up while the connection is down, the notebooks are immediately closed as well. There seems to be no way to get them back without reconnecting to the server. As long as I stay connected to the server (or don’t run OneNote while I’m not connected) everything is absolutely fine. The synchronization dialog in OneNote shows me green check marks everywhere and the sync runs every minute.

This is fantastic – an IDE for PowerShell (used to be Monad). Get it here, it’s free!

As you probably know if you’ve been trying out Office 2007 beta 2 yourself, there’s an updated engine of Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search engine available for use with the beta, which enables better search functionality in Outlook and OneNote. This engine has been working fine for me in Outlook (well, after the initialization in the beginning, and if I skip the facts that the data files take up more than 1GB of space on my laptop and apparently need to be maintained regularly at the cost of a lot of HD traffic), but it never worked at all in OneNote. In the beginning I asked about this in the OneNote forum and I was told that the initialization had probably not finished (which was true, I guess), but several days have passed now and things still don’t work. I can search within single pages, but I can’t search across page borders – and the nice demo in the “getting started” section, where text in an image is supposed to be found, doesn’t work either.

For completeness’ sake: when searching across page borders (i.e. searching for something that can’t be found in the current page), the first time I hit Enter after entering the search word(s), nothing happens at all. The second time I hit Enter, this dialog pops up (for good measure, it pops up twice): !

Here’s great news – I had just wondered about it earlier today, and now there’s actually a quick way to get some feedback to Microsoft about the Office 2007 beta. This blog post explains it nicely, and here’s the download in case the MSDN blogs are inaccessible (which they sometimes seem to be).

Can’t say if this is really specific to PowerPoint, but I just noticed that PowerPoint 2007 regularly uses the clipboard internally. I’ve been using ClipMate for a few years now, which is a really fantastic clipboard monitor/archiver tool with a lot of functionality around clipboard use. ClipMate also has a setting to produce a sound when the content of the clipboard changes, and that’s what made me notice that clipboard content was regularly changed while I was creating and editing slides in PowerPoint. Specifically, when the new live preview functions kicked in while I was hovering the mouse cursor over the Ribbon, this happened all the time.

Looking at ClipMate’s Explorer window, I can only see that PowerPoint is apparently pushing empty image data to the clipboard. It does this several times with a block of same size, then the size changes at some point, to be repeated several times again. No idea why this happens, but I don’t like it…

I posted before about a few inconsistencies in the Office 2007 UI, and now I found that there’s not even a common UI document model underneath the various applications. I did some tests with PowerPoint, Word and Excel – what I want is really simple: I want to be able to open more than one document at once, and I want each document to appear in its own window. Of course each of those windows should have its own button in the task bar (it wouldn’t cross my mind to mention this specifically, but as I found out, this is apparently not a normal thing to expect). I have three screens attached to my computer, so I want to be able to view several documents of the same type next to each other, and I want to use Alt-Tab to switch between main windows, because my task bar is seldom where I need it and always so full that I can’t easily find the right button anyway. So here’s how the three applications behaved in my test.


Now we’ve been told about the fantastic Ribbon for so long… somehow I expected to find it everywhere (and I actually like it, but that’s a different topic). Outlook doesn’t have it though – are there not enough menu entries and toolbar buttons in Outlook to warrant the Ribbon? Then again, one look at the Outlook Options dialog tells me that the UI improvement team skipped this application… it’s as ugly and confusing as ever. Outlook at least recognizes the theming setting I made in another Office application and comes up in sexy Vista grey, even though I’m on Windows XP. OneNote, on the other hand, doesn’t have a Ribbon either – although it’s got a menu bar, 9 toolbars with around 130 buttons in total – and it doesn’t even do theming. So we have at least (I’m sure I’m missing something) three different looks throughout Office 2007.

So here’s Microsoft being themselves again… hundreds of people are complaining about the fact that Office 2007 can’t be activated right now, at least since this morning apparently. It’s nice that I can run “the software” 50 times without activation, but as “the software” includes all the single applications in the Office Professional package, this isn’t very much. After having a look at each app just once and getting Outlook to the point where it now synchronizes with my Exchange server, I’m down to about 30 starts left. I’m not saying Microsoft shouldn’t have problems… I’m saying they could try communicating with their users, especially those who are trying to take time out of their own busy days to help MS test their software. So far there must be tens of threads about the activation problem in the forum linked above, and I have yet to find a single reply from somebody at MS, or any other information about the problem or its solution.