From the I-Love-Windows-Department: Disaster Strikes! All Arial Fonts Are Now Italics!

For no apparent reason, all of my Arial fonts in Outlook, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc., etc., and etc. suddenly appeared as Italics.

In the spirit of "The IT Crowd", I did the following:

  • Hello... IT
  • Did you try turning it off and then on again?
  • Is it plugged in?
  • That failing, I googled.
  • The advice I found about changing in IE View/Encoding/Auto Select was worthless.
  • Microsoft suggested re-registering mlang.dll:

How Can I Have an Out of Office Message in Outlook 2003, If I Don't Use Exchange?

I had a client using Outlook 2003 that was going to be traveling and would be out of email contact. The email server didn't have an out of office (OOO) feature, but it was important that people be notified about the potential delay in a reply. Since the client was taking their computer with them, it wasn't possible to just leave Outlook running and set up some rules.

Ultimately, the solution was pretty simple. Set up an account on another user's outlook to access the out-of-office (OOO) account, set up a rule to move the email to a folder (the user was the client's secretary and was also supposed to get copies of incoming emails, just in case), and then have that rule send an OOO reply message.

How to Replace one RAID controller with Another in Linux

I was having major problems with an Adpatec 2410 SATA RAID controller on a client's primary server. The server would run for 15 to 35 days without a problem, then suddenly drop communications with the controller and basically hang the system.

XP SP2 Firewall Blocks During Remote Upgrade

I had kind of an odd problem today. I was installing XP SP2 on some workstations that had just upgraded from Windows 2000 to XP and I was using Radmin to remote in and finish the process. At the point after the system does the reboot and comes back up as SP2, the firewall has been activated and Radmin could no longer be used to remote in (the port is blocked by the firewall). The question becomes, "How do you finish the update remotely and access your newly updated system, if remote support doesn't work because of the new firewall?"

Well, while trying to decide if it was worth it to drive the 45 minutes, wait for someone to show up onsite, or some other workaround, I tried a few things. (The usual registry changing warnings apply.) There were other computers on the network that I could remote into, so here's how to open the port for radmin if the firewall is already up:

  • Stop the firewall:
  • Remote into another computer on that network and login as the administrator.
  • Start services.msc.
  • Click Action/"Connect to another computer". If the administrator is different on the computer you are attaching to, you might be prompted for credentials.
  • Scroll down to "Windows Firewall" and stop the service.
  • You should now be able to remote in to the problem system.
  • Fix the firewall:
  • You now have a new problem. You can't fix the firewall to open your port back up unless it is running, but you can access the system if it is running.
  • Remote into a working system.
  • Run regedt32.
  • Find this registry entry:

Opening up another SMTP port on an Exchange 2003 Server

Once in awhile, I need to be able to access port 25 for sending SMTP (email) traffic thru an ISP that doesn't allow it. The workaround is to open a different port that is allowed (many ports over 1024 are allowed, but some like 8080 are being blocked by some ISPs). The way to do this in Exchange 2003 is non-obvious, but trivial.

When you add in a virtual SMTP server, be sure to link the SMTP connector to the virtual connection (beachhead) or mail will get stuck in the queue.

$100 Laptop Demo Video

I've been following Nicholas Negroponte's, et al, $100 laptop project since he announced it in the spring of 2005. The project really started taking shape this fall 2005. The idea is to get a laptop in the hands of every child in the world and do it for $100. I think the idea is pretty cool, even if the "benefits" might appear to be a little esoteric. The technology isn't radical, but the concepts and partnerships are. The best demo I've found of the thing, in it's current "pre-protoype" stage, is at www.andycarvin.com.

Here's a pretty good summary of the OLPC organization: "One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a Delaware-based, non-profit organization created by Nicholas Negroponte and other faculty members from the MIT Media Lab to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education. The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. These machines will be rugged, Linux-based, and so energy efficient that hand-cranking alone can generate sufficient power for operation. Mesh networking will give many machines Internet access from one connection. The pricing goal will start near $100 and then steadily decrease. The corporate members are Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, Nortel, and Red Hat."

Expected benefits of one-laptop-per-child:

  • Free text books (all text books will be digital, not atoms)
  • Expanded communications/access (all of the laptops are networked)
  • Expanded creativity (programming, software development, hacking, writing, drawing...)

Here are my predictions:

XP Install Time Sneakiness

If you want to open a command prompt during the Windows XP installation process, at certain times during the GUI install part, you can open a command prompt window by pressing Shift-F10. From there, you can do things like open the task manager: taskmgr.exe or anything else you can do from the windows command line.

In Memoriam: Paul D. Hansen

I was shocked to find out that my college roommate, Paul D. Hansen, died at age 47 on September 18, 2005.

Paul was a good friend.

Going to the New Larger Outlook 2003 PST File Size Limits

Supposedly Outlook 2003 offered new, larger file size limits for outlook.pst files above the 1.8gb/2.0gb limits that previous version had. If this is true, how come users that install or migrate to 2003 are still hitting the limit and getting a maximum file size error? The answer has to do with default values and how things get setup during the upgrade/installation.

First, here are the related Microsoft KB articles:

  • 830336 - The .pst file has a different format and folder size limit in Outlook 2003
  • 832925 - How to configure the size limit for both (.pst) and (.ost) files in Outlook 2003
  • 842784 - You cannot deploy Unicode .pst files when you use the Custom Installation Wizard from the Office 2003 Resource Kit

These articles were helpful in finding out about the new limits and why I didn't get to use them (the PST in question was set up as the Outlook97-2002 portable/backward compatible format instead of the new large format). However, I couldn't find an article about how to actually migrate to the new format.

In general, to migrate to the new larger file, you need to create a new large format file, start outlook using that file, then migrate (import) your old pst into your new pst.

Warning: once you convert to the large format, you will not be able to read your new PST with previous versions of Outlook. You can still export to another old-format PST file, then read that file, but you can't read the new format directly.

These instructions are general guidelines that follow the steps I needed to do. You may see different windows and different values depending on your setup. Be sure to make a backup and take the usual precautions. With that said, here's how I was able to migrate to the new large PST file format:

  • Start Outlook 2003
  • Create a large format PST: Click File/New/Outlook Data File.
  • Select "Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst)", NOT "Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File (.pst)" and click OK.
  • Enter the name: large.pst
  • Note where the file is being created. This is usually the same place as your original PST and is usually:

Polycom 500 IP Phone Blocks 3rd digit When Dialing

In setting up my asterisk pbx, I had decided to use the Polycom 500 IP phones. I really like these phones as they integrate well with asterisk and have great sound quality. However, in my testing, I found that when I accessed an outgoing connection, then started dialing, the 3rd digit would usually get dropped (even though the tone sounded) and I end up a digit short.

For instance, you would select an outbound line, dial 9, the first digit of your number, then the phone screen would flash "connecting", dropping my next digit, then I would end up with a 6 digit phone number.

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