Microsoft eOpen Sucks

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.

Continue reading “Microsoft eOpen Sucks”

Netflix DVD Rental Service

Last week I mentioned that we had tried out the Redbox DVD Vending Machine, so I figured it was only fair that I review the Netflix DVD rental service as well. While Redbox generally serves the impulse renter, Netflix is more for the serious consumer of videos. The reason being is that Redbox has no commitment. You walk up, choose a movie, swipe your card, and you’re done (except for having to return your movie, and even that is optional if you want to pay a hefty price tag for it).

Netflix, meanwhile, requires you to sign up. Now you can try out the service for two weeks – and during that time you can churn through about as many DVDs as you can handle – but you still have to sign up for it, meaning you have a commitment. That isn’t an entirely bad thing, however, as Netflix delivers the videos right to your door (well, the mail carrier delivers them, Netflix just sends them), and you can then drop them in the mail when you are done, shipped right back to Netflix. Postage is included in every plan. It’s actually a sweet system.

Continue reading “Netflix DVD Rental Service”

Disable Template Syntax Highlighting in Movable Type 4

One of the more challenging pieces of the Movable Type administration interface in version 4 is the syntax highlighting when you are editing your templates. That’s not to say that the highlighting is entirely bad, because it can be nice, and brighten your day. Rather than having a plain old black and white text box, you get colors, and line numbers, and it does make things work a bit better. In 4.0, however, you had problems with cutting and pasting. Though improved in 4.1, there are still some problems – notably slow load times.

While you can disable the syntax highlighting (known as CodePress) by clicking on a button, the problem is that the script still loads and processes the data on-screen before disabling the editor, meaning that load times can still be slow. What’s worse is that the preference is stored in a cookie, so if you’re on another computer, or if another user logs in, the highlighting comes right back. Because of this, I’ve seen repeated requests on disabling the highlighting permanently. Unfortunately, you can’t just remove the codepress directory or you’ll get an error and be unable to edit your templates at all. Luckily, there is a solution.

Continue reading “Disable Template Syntax Highlighting in Movable Type 4”

How Do You Actually Control Your Email Spam?

Now that we’ve taken a look at getting a handle on our email spam, it’s important to try and figure out how to really get on top of it. Sure, we can manage the spam process, and try to make sure that it doesn’t get the better of us, but to make the most of it, it is important that we understand how email works to get the most out of the process. Since I use pair Networks, this will naturally look at it from that angle, but much of this can apply to any service.

First, of course, you have to be aware of the spam that you are receiving. We have already talked about that. But then you have to make sure to do everything in your power to keep from receiving more of it. While I know there are lots of people who swear by GMail for it’s effectiveness in fighting spam, I have to say that I really don’t find it any better than any other tool. You just have to find what works best for you. That doesn’t mean that GMail is bad – it just means that is isn’t going to be the best because someone says that it is the best.

Continue reading “How Do You Actually Control Your Email Spam?”

Getting a Handle on Email Spam

One of the most annoying items that we all face is undoubtedly email spam. Unfortunately, there is little that we can do about it, and so I figured that it was time to try and understand it better. Not so long ago, I made two changes that made this not only possible, but useful. First, I switched from using POP3 email to IMAP. This in turn led to the other change, which was to (finally) dump Outlook and start using Thunderbird exclusively. In fact, the only time that I’ve used Outlook in the last few months was to help a family member figure out what was going wrong. But that’s a story for another time.

What these two changes have done has allowed me to look at email spam differently. You probably already know that Outlook handles junk email. I’ve mentioned it before. More than once, actually. Unfortunately, the Outlook junk filter doesn’t have much of a brain to it. I’m sure it does something, but it doesn’t seem to ever tell you anything about it, and operating in a void doesn’t help anyone. Thunderbird, meanwhile, doesn’t tell you a lot either, but it does interact with the most popular spam filter on the planet (SpamAssassin) and it also allows you to tag items as junk and not junk, which supposedly will help future items. I don’t know if that helps or not, but it feels like it does, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Continue reading “Getting a Handle on Email Spam”

Error Deleting AVI Files in Windows XP

It seems like I just can’t seem to get rid of an annoying error that crops up every once in a while where I’m unable to delete AVI files through Windows XP. To be fair, I should probably elaborate and say that I’m unable to delete AVI files through Windows XP when I’m using Windows Explorer. Were I to use the command line, I’m sure that it would be just fine.

I think that I might have finally managed to lick this problem – though at this point I’m really suspecting that it has just gone into remission, so I don’t know for sure. If you’ve seen it, then you know what happens. You try and delete (or move, which involves a delete) an AVI file and you get an annoying message telling you that the file is in use. You can kill the file handle using something like Process Explorer, but it would be so much better to not have to worry about it.

Continue reading “Error Deleting AVI Files in Windows XP”

Redbox DVD Vending Machine

With the announcement earlier this week that Wal-Mart is going to be placing Redbox DVD vending machines in many of their US stores, I figured that it was time to see if any of them had made their way to Charlotte yet. A little over a year ago, when Peter mentioned Redbox on his site, I checked to see if there were any in Charlotte, and at the time, there weren’t. Now, there are a few, mostly at Harris Teeter stores.

So we decided to try out renting from one of the machines to see what it was like. Overall, the result was decent. The idea certainly has merit, but there are certainly a few ideas where it can be improved. Being able to rent a DVD almost on impulse is pretty cool. I mean if it didn’t have some chance of success, why would just about every store have stacks and stacks of DVDs that you could buy on your way out the door? The main thing that we noticed was in time. That is, it needs to speed up the process just a bit. Other than that, it was a decent experience.

Continue reading “Redbox DVD Vending Machine”

What Would Make TypePad Really Rock

Most of the work I do as a Consultant is for Movable Type. But I also work with TypePad, and I’ve actually seen some increasing activity in this area, most notably from larger companies who may not be ready to run their own MT installation and just want to get something ready and roll it out quickly. For this, TypePad is the perfect platform. It may not be as flexible as Movable Type, but it does offer you plenty of power in a nice interface.

What it doesn’t do is give you a few tools that would make things run much better. Though comment pagination was announced a while back, and archive pagination came along afterwards, you still can’t paginate your main index (though the code has been added). In fact, you’ll find that some customers – even those who pay for the most expensive accounts – can’t even use the pagination features that have already been announced! But pagination isn’t the only feature missing from TypePad.

Continue reading “What Would Make TypePad Really Rock”

A Voucher No. on the lines may only be used once per fiscal year

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.

Continue reading “A Voucher No. on the lines may only be used once per fiscal year”

The Best Super Bowl Halftime Show Ever

No, I’m not talking about Tom Petty. Frankly, I didn’t even see him. As soon as the first commercial break was over, I flipped the channel to Spike to catch the MLE Championship. You can watch it on Spike’s web site, if you dare. I’m still deciding if I’ll plug it into this post or not. I think that I probably will, but I’m just not sure. Let me talk for a minute first.

If you have caught the prior MLE Chowdowns, then you have some idea of what to expect. The Turkey Bowl at Thanksgiving was awesome. The Table Enders were actually the best, chowing down tubes of cranberry sauce. But this was the championship, for all the marbles. With the awesome Kobayashi out due to his still-present jaw injury, the question was whether Joey Chestnut would be able to finally conquer Pat Bertoletti on Spike. So far it hadn’t happened.

Continue reading “The Best Super Bowl Halftime Show Ever”