Entries Tagged as 'Windows'

IMAP Utilities

I generally prefer to interface to my mail via IMAP, and I store my mail archives in a local IMAP repository (which allows me the ability to search the repository quickly using Windows Search).

With the old email server I was using it was fairly straight forward to make a backup of the IMAP store and preserve the IMAP folder paths; the new mail server I’m using stores messages far more efficiently and uses a database to record the IMAP folder association of every folder and message.  Yes I could backup the files and the database, but that seemed fairly rigid and a solution that would likely not be portable in the future.

And before I sat out on writing my own tools, I prefer to look at what’s out there — either to use it as a solution, or learn from it.

I happened to stumble upon IMAPSize by Broobles, and while it’s not exactly what I was looking for it has a number of useful features.

It’s billed as the “Swiss Army Knife” of IMAP utilities by many reviewers.

Rather than go through all the features it has, I’m just going to talk about some of the things that most everyone will probably find useful.

The first thing it does is show you how much mail is in each mailbox, so if you’ve got quotas you can figure you where you need to prune.

  • I has some search capabilities (particularly useful if you don’t have your own IMAP server, since IMAP search, even when properly implemented in server and client, isn’t all that powerful).
  • It allows you to do regular IMAP management (much the same as your client will do).
  • It allows you to copy messages from one account to another (there’s lots of scripts that will do that as well).
  • It will do incremental backups of folders or entire accounts.
  • It will search through and flag SPAM.

The program is a fairly straight forward GUI application for Windows, and probably my biggest complaint is that it doesn’t allow command line options to use it in a script.  Personally I would prefer to do my backup on a schedule, unattended.

I will probably write my own tool to do backup; I’ve already written an IMAP object library — so I really only need to decide how to store the configuration information (probably in an XML file); but this is none the less an extremely useful program, and if you use IMAP you should take a look at it.  And it’s FREE to try, and FREE to use, but you might want to donate something to it’s author, particularly if you’re going to ask for an enhancement.

Originally posted 2009-02-18 01:00:07.

Windows 7 – Device Stage

Microsoft® Windows 7 has a really cool feature called Device Stage.

It presents all your hardware devices together in one place and allows you to organize information.  You know like synchronize information between your computer and the devices.

If you look on Microsoft’s web site you’ll see a great article detailing how you can fully synchronize your smart phone without knowing any details of hardware or software — just plug in the cable and tell it what program to use on the PC to synchronize with (and unlike in previous versions you don’t need Outlook).

Well, call me tickeled pink…

I plugged in my Microsoft Mobile 6.5 Smart Phone… and I just can’t tell you how disappointed I was.  Mobile Device Center (the abomination from Vista that replaced ActiveSync) downloaded, installed, and opened and told me I didn’t have any source of contacts or calendar information…

So Windows 7, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s desktop strategy ships without a connector for Windows Mobile 6.5, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s phone strategy… how sad.

I’d say Microsoft has convinced me I should buy an iPhone and use a Mac — Apple products actually work together.

Well, call me disappointed…

The slogan for Windows 7 should be something like

Maybe Windows 8, 9, 10, or 11…

Originally posted 2009-11-08 01:00:16.

Windows 7 – Boom or Bust?

What is it about Windows 7 that’s supposed to be so great???

I’m at a total lose.

Other than being a little faster than Vista on a low end machine I’m finding most of the changes make it worse not better.
 
Still same problems with UAC, install an app with admin privileged and then allow it to run and you’re screwed — so if the installer wasn’t written properly Win7 ain’t gonna help you, and if the installer was written properly it worked fine on Vista.
 
Administration tasks are moved around (again), and many details are hidden.
 
Lots of the new features are nothing more than dummy-proofing the OS; which probably doesn’t make it any easier for dummies, just harder for people who have a clue.
 
The overall appearance of Win7 looks like a kindergartner with crayons created it after looking at a Mac.
 
Having media playback components built in is nice, but many CODECs are still missing and the only support for MKV containers if from a third party (DivX); and  the entire media playback system has been changed (maybe it’ll be better in the long run, but it just makes it that much harder to do the things that were straight forward under Vista and XP).   Answer me this, if you have to install a piece of third party software to support media playback does it really matter whether or not Microsoft included a few very popular ones but not a full compliment?
 
The virtualization component is a joke.  Hyper-V would have been great, but instead we’re stuck with a minor improvement on Virtual PC (just download Sun’s free VirtualBox and forget about it; that will run on machines without hardware assisted virtualizaton, support a much more modern virtual machine, and be far less clunky than what Microsoft provides).
 
Most all the new features that promised to make Win7 more task oriented just aren’t really complete — the number of devices they support are minuscule… which means it really isn’t a feature, it’s a promised feature (which will probably require quite a few updates).  And we all know how good Microsoft is at keeping promises once the checks have been cashed.
 
The only thing I’ve really found about it that’s substantially better than Vista is the ability to find drivers on the web a feature that would have been straight forward to add to any previous version of Windows.
 
From what I can see Windows 7 is nothing substantially more than re-branding Vista SP3 (which is probably why the internal version number is 6.1 not 7) to try and shed the bad reputation Microsoft created with all the issues with releasing Vista before it was ready.  Not to mention create a revenue stream (a service pack would have been free to the individuals who bought Vista; and remember Windows 7 Upgrades cost the same regardless of the version of Windows you had).
 
I have a feeling that all Windows 7 will do for me is define the moment in time that I begin to move away from Microsoft and Windows… it’s really too bad the only viable option at the moment is a Mac… but then again, high end Macs are reasonably cost effective.

I will move my desktops and laptops to Windows 7 (I’ve already purchased the licenses); and I will continue to post my experiences with Windows 7 (hopefully some of them will be positive); but I will start considering non-Microsoft solutions.

Originally posted 2009-11-20 01:00:08.

Desktop Search

Let me start by saying that Windows Desktop Search is a great addition to Windows; and while it might have taken four major releases to get it right, for the most part it works and it works well.

With Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 Desktop Search is installed and enabled by default; and it works in a federated mode (meaning that you can search from a client against a server via the network).

Desktop Search, however, seems to have some issues with junction points (specifically in the case I’ve seen — directory reparse, or directory links).

The search index service seems to do the right thing and not create duplicates enteries when both the parent of the link and the target are to be indexed (though I don’t know how you would control whether or not the indexer follows links in the case where the target wouldn’t normally be indexed).

The search client, though, does not seem to properly provide results when junction points are involved.

Let me illustrate by example.

Say we have directory tree D1 and directory tree D2 and both of those are set to be indexed.  If we do a search on D1 it produces the expected results.  If we do a search on D2 it produces the expected results.

Now say we create a junction point (link) to D2 from inside D1 called L1.  If we do a search on L1 we do not get the same results as if we’d searched in D2.

My expectation would be that the search was “smart” enough to do the search against D2 (taking the link into consideration) and then present the results with the path altered to reflect the link L1.

I consider this a deficiency; in fact it appears to me to be a major failing since the user of information shouldn’t be responsible for understanding all the underlying technology involved in organizing the information — he should just be able to obtain the results he expects.

It’s likely the client and the search server need some changes in order to accommodate this; and I would say that the indexer also needs a setting that would force it to follow links (though it shouldn’t store the same document information twice).

If this were a third party search solution running on Windows my expectation would be that file system constructs might not be handled properly; but last time I checked the same company wrote the search solution, the operating system, and the file system — again, perhaps more effort should be put into making things work right, rather than making things [needlessly] different.

Originally posted 2010-01-22 01:00:57.

The end of the desktop PC?

Many articles have been written lately indicating that the desktop PC is reaching the end of it’s life.  To that I say nay.

A desktop PC is firmly entrenched in government and business; while it could “go away” we’re decades away from that happening… but what we might be seeing is that Microsoft Windows may be shifting away from it’s dominant role in the desktop PC.

In my opinion, the only thing that has kept Windows in it’s dominant role for so long is the wealth of software and the consistency (that’s a tough word to write when thinking of how inconsistent Windows really is) of software and operating system.

Time will certainly tell what will happen, and while tablets may be outselling desktops; there are a lot of desktops in the world already.

Originally posted 2013-08-31 12:00:26.

Microsoft Updates

I’ve got a new pet-peeve (like a had a shortage of them before)…

nVidia has been coming out with display updates for their video cards for Vista about once per month (OK — a little less often than that); and Microsoft has been dutifully pushing down certified drivers to users.

First, the big problem I have with the nVidia driver for my 9800s is that I periodically have the machine freeze and get a message that the display driver stopped responding (but has recovered)… maybe nVidia should be concentrating on fixing that issue and hold off on updates until there’s really some substantial progress [but that might negatively impact them re-naming old tehcnology and trying to sell it as something new].

OK — I digressed… but like I said, it’s a new pet-peeve, and I want to revel in it.

The really annoying thing is that every time Microsoft download and installs a new video driver the system resizes all my open windows and rearranges the icons (shortcuts) on my desktop…

Now perhaps this is only because I have a multiple display system… but reguardless you’d think the children in Redmond might have considered storing the previous state of windows BEFORE activating the new video driver and restoring it afterwards — after all, they are concerned with user experience, RIGHT?

RIGHT… I think the phase would be “experience THIS!”

Microsoft has come a long way in the last few years in making computers easier to use, and easier to maintain… but they (Microsoft) still fails to actually have people who use computers design feature for them… and that’s why using Windows has always felt like it was held together by chewing gum and string — BECAUSE IT IS.

I could do with one less version of Internet Explorer and a bit more work on polishing the overall user experience… and why all these “major” upgrades???  Why not just a continuous stream of improvements to each and every part of the system???

Originally posted 2009-08-22 01:00:10.

Windows 7 – Upgrade Advisor

If you’re considering upgrading your current PC to Windows 7, you should really download, install, and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will provide you with information about programs you have on your system that may not be compatible with Windows 7, and it will indicate devices that you may need to locate the driver manually.

Generally the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor does a great job giving you specific information on obtaining everything you will need to upgrade your system; and it’s much easier to local all those items while you still have a working machine.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

Originally posted 2009-11-10 01:00:27.

7-Zip

I’ve written about 7-Zip before; but since we’re on the verge of a significant improvement I felt it was time to highlight it again.

7-Zip is a file archiver written by Igor Pavlov.  Originally only available for Windows, but now available for most every operating system.

7-Zip was one of the first archiving tools to include LZMA (Lempel-Ziv-Markov chain algorithm); and consistently demonstrated much higher compression ratios at much higher compression rates than any other compression scheme.

The next release of 7-Zip (9.10) will include LZMA2.

The source code for the LZMA SDK has been put into the public domain, and is freely available for use in other products.  The SDK includes the main line C++ course, ANSI-C compatible LZMA and XV source code; C#  LZMA compression and decompression source code; Java LZMA compression and decompression source code; as well as other source code.

You can read all the features of LZMA as well as download the Windows version of 7-Zip and locate links for pZip for *nix operating systems.  You can also do a search for tvx or vx for *nix based systems as well.

This is the only archive utility you need; it would have been nice had Microsoft chosen to base the folder compression in Windows 7 on the LZMA SDK, or at least made it easy to replace the compression module; but 7-Zip installs a Windows shell extension so you have a separate (though confusing for some) menu item for compression and decompression.

http://www.7-zip.org/

Originally posted 2010-01-21 01:00:14.

Virtual machines need regular defragging, researcher says

This comes from an article on ComputerWorld, all I can say is duh!

Virtual disks require the same fragmentation as the same operating system would running on physical machines; plus if you choose dynamically expanding containers for the disk on the host, you’ll likely need to power down the machine and periodically defragment the host as well.

You’d think that an article that starts with a title like that couldn’t possible get any more asinine; well, you’d be wrong:

Windows, as well as third-party software firms, offer defragmenters to reassemble fragmented files. Fragmentation is not as large of a problem on Unix systems, due to the way that the OS writes files to disk.

Apparently the author seems to think that just because Windows includes software to defragment the file system, it must be much more susceptible to fragmentation.  He’d be right if we were talking about Windows 98 or if people choose not to run NTFS… but he and the article he references are dead wrong.

NTFS has almost identical abilities as EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4 file systems to avoid fragmentation — the difference is that NTFS supports defragmentation of the file system (and Windows ships with a rudimentary defragmenter).  In fact, if *nix file system were so impervious to fragmentation, why would the ability to defragment be one of the major feature additions in EXT4 (though not fully implemented yet)?

There are many thing about *nix type operating systems that can clearly be pointed to as superior than Windows, the resistance to fragmentation simply isn’t one; WAKE UP and live in the current millennium, we don’t need to confuse FAT16/FAT32 with Windows.

Virtual machines need regular defragging, researcher says
By Joab Jackson on ComputerWorld

Originally posted 2010-10-12 02:00:44.

GB-PVR

For many a computer hooked up to their TV is going to become more and more common place over the next few years… and certainly Vista Media Center does a great deal to close the gap between consumer electronics and computers; but for those who want more it falls short.

One of the biggest failings of Vista Media Center is that it doesn’t support H.264 natively as a video recording type… and many of the external HD recorders transmit their stream in H.264 (not MPEG-2 like ATSC/DVB systems do).

There are, of course, a host of for pay media programs for your PC you could look at — things like Beyond TV and Sage TV have been around for years… but the new kid on the block is a freeware project called GB-PVR.

GB-PVR is fairly full featured, and it’s likely that it will work with your hardware provided you have drivers, and it’s a reasonable fully featured media program.  You can get a copy and try it out from the link below, as well as read up on it.

http://www.gbpvr.com/

Originally posted 2008-08-31 18:46:19.