20 October, 2010

Tech Haiku #2

Screwdriver? Check! Patch
cable? Check! Now nobody
Will dare to stop me

05 October, 2010

Just Finish This For Me: Outlook's AutoComplete function

Just when you think you have configured a new PC to suit its new owner, along they come and say "My email addresses don't just pop up anymore!" Gah! Of course they don't, I curse myself, that's because they're stored locally in the intuitively named AutoComplete File, which has the unintuitively named extension NK2.

This file stores all the email addresses you use regularly, so that when you start to send an email to one of your friends called Dave, for example, you only need to type the first few letters, and up comes every Dave you send email to.

Unless, that is, you get a new PC.

Here's how to move the email autocomplete data to a new PC. First of all, make sure Outlook is NOT running, then follow these steps:

1.On your old PC, the one with the saved AutoComplete names, hold down the Window key and press F. This brings up the search box. Enter *.NK2 as a search term. It'll find a file called Outlook.NK2, or a file with your login name.NK2, probably in the \Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder, or the \Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook folder in Windows 7.

2. Copy the file to a memory stick or email it to yourself.

3. On your new computer, repeat the process in Step 1 to locate the sparsely populated NK2 file. If in doubt, navigate to the folders in Step 1 and see what you find. The AutoComplete file may not have the same name as on the old system, but the extension is the giveaway.

4. Rename the new system's NK2 file (outlook.NK2.bak, for example). Then copy the one from your old machine into the same folder.

5. Power up Outlook to check it works alright.

Presto! The deed is done!

Potential problems:
Guess what? If your file settings are in the default "Microsoft nanny" mode, the Outlook folder may be hidden ("for your protection"). To unhide hidden folders in Windows XP, hold down the Window key and press E to bring up My Computer. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options. Click the View tab, and then burrow through Advanced settings, Hidden files and folders, and click Show hidden files and folders.

24 September, 2010

Friday Limerick #1

A corporate man in a suit,
Came and told me his laptop won't boot
I saw what was wrong
It's the same old sad song
"That's a briefcase, you dozy old coot!"

Tech haiku #1

PC Load Error
I think I can fix that one
Pass the sledgehammer

09 September, 2010

It's Debugging Day! When an editor I've worked with for a decade mentioned she wanted an article on software bugs last spring, we decided to publish it on September 9, because it's the 63rd anniversary of the "moth in the relay" incident.

Back in 1947, a team working with Harvard's Mark II computer pulled a dead moth out of the machine, and with a flash of engineer humor, taped it into the log with the caption "First actual case of bug being found."

People who don't know how to read properly assumed that this incident introduced the term "bug" to the computing world--but this old word for a monster had been used in engineering for more than a century before anyone pulled a moth out of a machine at Harvard. But even though it's not a significant day in terms of etymology (or entomology), we thought that September 9 was a good day to celebrate software errors.

We settled on 11 massive failures and a few notable mentions. Check out the article at Computerworld.com. It's called Epic Fail, for obvious reasons.

25 August, 2010

Bugging out!

I'm in the throes of writing a feature article on computer bugs at the moment. It gave me the chance to revisit an old favorite of mine from 1994. The Pentium floating point flaw was in the news at the time, and it overshadowed this little snippet.

Windows Mis-Calculator

In the four years leading up to the great Pentium flaw scandal, the not-so-great Windows Calculator scandal was flying under the horizon. It came to light in 1994, but it had been kicking around since Windows 3.x first appeared in 1990. CALC.EXE came up with a joke answer that was even funnier than punching 07734 into a handheld calculator, turning it upside down, and saying "hello" to people in leetspeak.

Propeller-heads tried the following math exercise instead:

0 - 2.11

Windows Calculator got the right answer: -2.11. But adding 2.1 to the result yielded an interesting result that broke new ground in mathematics. Instead of -0.01, it introduced the baffling concept of -0.00. We're not entirely sure what minus zero to two decimal places means, but it was fun to geek out to back in 1994.

Yeah, we know how lame that sounds. Remember that this was six years before the millennium. Even geek entertainment was simple back then.

Murky Bucket

It seems that my nation needs me. I left Britain 23 years ago, and now, according to an article in today's Daily Telegraph, people there don't want to say "Thank you" anymore. Of course, they are prepared to render thanks, but they believe that the actual words "thank you" are too formal. So they use informal and even foreign terms instead: Top of the list of informal thank-yous is "cheers." They'd even use the reviled language of French and resort to "merci" rather than saying "thank you." Really!

This goes to prove one thing: I'm an early adopter. "Cheers!" was almost my exclusive way of saying "thank you" back in 1985-87, my last two years on British soil.

You may offer whatever thanks you wish for my blog today in the space provided below. Use whatever terms you choose. For those in need of a thesaurus of colloquial terms of gratitude, the Telegraph provided the following, sorted in order of preference according to their opinion poll:


1. Cheers

2. Ta

3. That's great

4. Cool

5. OK

6. Brilliant

7. Lovely

8. Nice one

9. Much appreciated

10. You star

11. All right

12. Fab

13. Awesome

14. Wicked

15. Merci

16. Danke

17. Gracias

18. Super

19. Ace

20. Thank you

14 May, 2010

How low can you go?

Just when you thought you'd found the cheapest domain registrar...someone goes and lowers the bar. This is getting ridiculous! Lots of people offer free domains if you buy into their hosting packages. But 1&1 Internet is taking it too far! For the month of May, they are giving one dot com away per customer. No charge. And their renewals are among the lowest in the cosmos too--a good two bucks less than GoDaddy's.

And if you want to load up on a couple of extra hosting features, their beginner package is $3.99 a month for a ridiculous amount of features--a blog, RSS, phone support, 600 email accounts (IMAP, POP and Webmail, no less), 10GB of site space...I mean, let's get serious here! Nothing for a .com domain? Goosed up for less than fifty bucks per year? Are you making any money for yourselves at all there, guys?