Another less-than-friendly hex error from our friends at Windows Update.

Why is it that they cannot write things out and just tell you what the problem is, or even better, how to fix it? That I do not know.

But like last time, the problem here is not hard to fix. In fact, this time around, it might be even easier.

There is no doubt that Windows Update is one of those things that has made life both easier and more complex for everyone. The process of receiving updates is now nearly transparent and can generally be painless - unless something goes wrong, in which case you get errors that give you messages that mean next to nothing.

So it was the other day when I received messages telling me that I had errors 0x80072ee2 and 0x8024d00e. Those don't even look like numbers (they are actually hex representations), that presumably mean something to someone, hidden in Redmond. Or maybe the computer is trying to speak to me directly.

Did you know that it is actually possible to update a transaction in Microsoft Office Accounting (also known as Small Business Accounting)? It is!

While I'm still not sure if I like the product, I have to say that it's actually not bad. It is more of a true ledger system than something like Quicken. In Quicken, for example, you can go in and edit to your heart's content - even after posting. Not so in Microsoft. You post it, you'll have to void and re-enter. That's more of a true accounting product. It's a pain, but it means you can't just go and change stuff after you have posted it. I respect the decision, but there are times I want to get around it, you know?

Thanks Microsoft! Another present. At least this one has an answer (of sorts) in the knowledge base. Unfortunately if you read that article, you might be more confused than when you started.

First, the problem will generally manifest with a more detailed message in the log like "The account specified for this service is different from the account specified for other services running in the same process." What that means in a nutshell is that the login credentials have a problem.

Anyone who has been reading for any length of time knows that I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to keeping track of data, so a message like The Data has Been Lost is a killer. Some people might even call this behavior anal, but it is what it is. So when the message comes up - repeatedly - telling me that the Delayed Write Failed and that the data has been lost, it ate at me. Really. I didn't know what to do. I think most people might take issue with it, but hey. What can I do?

Now it's not as if I'm talking government secrets here. I'm just doing a typical backup of data across a pretty simple home network (and a wired one at that). If it was on the wireless portion of the network, I could perhaps consider that maybe the neighbor's signal got in the way. But why it decided to start happening - and happening all the time - was driving me absolutely nuts.

So the other day, I'm trying to figure out how to read an Exchange mailbox from GMail and it's really starting to get to me because I just can't get the stupid thing to work. It shouldn't be that hard, because it's possible to use an IMAP or POP3 connection to Exchange, after all, but I just can't get the GMail connection to work. To make matters worse, if you search for it (my usual method of solving such a problem), you end up with results, but not of the correct variety. You get pages that tell you how to forward from GMail to Exchange, and pages that tell you how to use GMail as a business platform - but not what I really want, which is simply to have GMail do the checking with Exchange being a regular POP3 account. So I had to keep digging.

I'll tell you first that it is possible. Secondly, you do need to have POP3 configured (you should probably have guessed that one). Finally, it's really not hard - you just have to be willing to play around and guess a few times in order to figure out the answer. After that, it works like a champ.

If you've been a subscriber to the Microsoft Action Pack, then you might know of a couple of changes to the plan this year. First up is the requirement that you pass an assessment course. I figured I could do this when I had a chance, and so I pretty well blew off all those notices that they kept sending me and didn't bother to read much on the subject, so I finally got around to checking out the details today. I found out that the subject matter is a little bizarre. Mostly to do with sales, which I absolutely hate, but still, I figured I could stumble may way through.

I eventually settled on Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for the Small-and-Midsize Business, which is described as "This course teaches you to design a network solution, install and upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2003." I figured that wouldn't be too hard, right? So I registered. Of course I was in the middle of about three things, and still wasn't paying attention, and so the first thing I noticed was an assessment of my current skills, to see if I was able to take the test. I found that odd, but oh well. So I answered the 15 questions, and passed with 80%. That's cool. Then I spent a while trying to figure out how to actually get to take the real test, and I couldn't find it.

I generally like things being made available online. Sure, I have issues with putting data online, because when my connection goes out - and it will go out - I like to be able to get to it. But providing the option to get at things online is a nice feature. Making it so that they have to be retrieved online just blows. It really blows.

One of the hats that I wear in my life as a computer consultant has to do with networks - and when I'm wearing that hat, it means that I have to deal with Microsoft products. This really doesn't mean that I am a Microsoft hater, because a lot of what they do is decent. But some days they do nothing other than make my life miserable. Take eOpen, for example.

It seems that Microsoft Office Accounting Professional (2007) has a small problem. Actually, I'm not an accountant, so there may be more than one. But in this case, the problem is that once you have moved past the end of a year (here, 2007) and started entering items in a new fiscal year (2008), the accounting package doesn't want to let you enter any complex journal entries any longer. If you want to enter a single line-item transaction, it's fine and you don't even notice it. That's great, and the way that I prefer to go. But unfortunately, every once in a while, I have to enter something a little more complex, perhaps spanning two accounts on one side of the entry and one on the other. You can do that on a simple one-line transaction.

At that point, you have a problem and you get the message that says "A Voucher No. on the lines may only be used once per fiscal year". I had actually seen this message before (and I don't recall what that one was for - it may have been the same thing), but I managed to get around it somehow. At this point, I needed to enter an adjustment for last year, and 2008 is well under way. So I needed to figure a way around it. For those who are asking, Quickbooks isn't a solution at this point. I am getting there, but it won't happen in the next couple of days, when I need to have things turned over to the accountant, and that's when I started digging. The good news is that it's fixable. The bad news it that you have to do a little work.

Over the last four days, I've spent plenty of time getting up to speed on the latest offering from the boys in Redmond, and so far I'm reasonably pleased with it. It looks plenty pretty. With a few exceptions (the "setting up" dialog as you log in for the first time being one), the interface has a nice makeover from XP. But is it worth upgrading? That I'm not sure about.

The speed is nice, but to be fair, I'm running on a new computer too. So I can't really say if it's better than it was or not. Probably not. There's a lot going on with the new animations and the gadgets in the sidebar (which are neat, but mostly useless), so I suspect that if I tried to install it on an old computer, I would be really dragging. I've also noticed that I tend to lose Internet connectivity with some regularity - my IM client goes in and out every few minutes. Plus, driver support blows. Really blows. This is the one area that I absolutely cannot stand.

With the official release of Internet Explorer 7 (and perhaps Firefox 2), you may find yourself wanting to uninstall the IE7 beta, but you get a message that tells you to log in as the same user who installed the product originally in order to uninstall. If you're like me and have a tendency to muck about with users, that might be a lot easier said than done. Luckily, there is an answer.