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 Sunday, 04 July 2004

I woke up this morning, bright and early, and was getting ready to head out the door. I decided to check my email real quick, and BAM! ... Tons of referral tracking notifications, all from the same porn URL - So, it looks like someone referral-spammed by blog last night. I just removed all the bad listings, and have been trying to think of a way to prevent this from happening again. I'm coming up short in the ideas department, with the exception of the obvious: turning off referral tracking. I really don't want to do that, though.

It's the first time in quite a number of months that the site has been online, so I'll leave them on and see what happens in the future. Anyone have any bright ideas about preventing referral-listing spamming? Hey - I guess I should just be glad it's not comment spam!

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Blogging | Things that Suck
Sunday, 04 July 2004 08:10:23 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Saturday, 03 July 2004

Heading out to pick up a big truck with all the equipment for the fireworks show I'm responsible for firing tomorrow. A few people know that I'm a state-licensed pyrotechnician, and I occasionally shoot public displays around the region. Tomorrow we're in Clatskenie, Oregon (on Hwy 30 between Portland and Astoria) shooting several hundred 4- and 5-inch shells for their city 4th-of-July display. Should be fun! I might take come pictures or quick video and post later. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and enjoy the party the town is throwing. It sounds like a good time.

EDIT: A couple of pictures taken by Travis, showing the trench before and after the mortar tubes were installed:

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, 03 July 2004 10:55:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Friday, 02 July 2004

IzyNews lets you read your RSS feeds in any email client that does IMAP. No need to add extra software, and you're not restricted to any one client program. Windows, OSX, Linux, Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird - you choose one or more, no problem.

So, you can just upload your OPML file, set up a couple of things on the server, and instantly access IzyNews from any machine or almost any device (anything that'll do IMAP), from anywhere you like. No need to configure each machine or device with OPML files and separate RSS software - just connect via IMAP with whatever client happens to be available on that platform, and you're there.

Cool idea.

(from Jason Lefkowitz's blog via

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RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 21:21:03 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

A friend recently turned me on to a very cool program - It's a plug-in for Outlook 2000 or later that adds a whole bunch of new features and checks-and-balances that get executed every time you send or receive an email.

Image borrowed from Chris Sells - click to view his comments on the subject.Have you ever sent an email where you told the recipient to "See attached," but forgot to actually attach the file? Ever sent a reply-to-all without realizing you were BCC'ed - only to embarrass yourself or the sender of the original file? Ever forget to reply to all when you should have? Sent huge attachments without realizing how big they were? Sent an email containing angry or inappropriate words, only to regret it later? Chris Sells' image at right explains the potential problem clearly.

LookOut! for Outlook solves these problems. It pretty much does what the humorous picture above depicts. It also allows you to establish a company central database to store contact information, so you can keep track of client communications. And a lot more.

I have been using LookOut! for about a week, and I love it. Just this evening it asked me if I meant to attach a file to an email on which I had just clicked the "Send" button, but where I had forgotten to do so:

Rule: Attachment Word Warning
You mentioned the word 'attach' somewhere in your email, but there are no attachments.

I was then able to choose from options to send the email anyway, or to fix my mistake before sending. Nice.

Now that I've been using it for a little while, I don't think I can put it away - it's just too darn useful and makes too much sense to just stop using it. And that, my friends, is the first sign of really good software.

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Office 2003 | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 21:01:21 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Serge van den Oever suggests using an inexpensive commercial product called WebDrive to connect to SharePoint document libraries and sites via WebDav (note that you can also use WebDrive to connect to other types of servers with a drive letter, as well - WebDrive can connect to WebDAV, FTP, SFTP, and HTTP Servers supporting Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions). See Serge's site for more details about using it with SharePoint:

WebDrive: Accessing SharePoint document libraries through drive letters

I downloaded the trial version and was immediately able to map W: to a document library on MySite on the portal server at work, over a VPN connection, using WebDav. I then transferred files, made sure they work on both ends, ran through the site to make sure everything's operating properly -- It works great!

This will be useful for people who need to map SharePoint "drives" from Windows 2000 or other OS versions, and provides a solid way to repeatedly reconnect drives at login, manage drive-letter connections, etc. On top of using WebDav, you can also connect via FP extensions, FTP, SFTP (SSH), and GroupDrive protocols.

Add WebDrive to the list of useful tools for the SharePoint power user - especially if you're running a version of Windows prior to WinXP and need drive/folder-level access to SharePoint 2003 sites.

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Office 2003 | SharePoint | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 18:43:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Greg Hurlsman at points out a valuable resource that I have been using for some time (since well before I started "blogging," [insider comment: yes, I put that word in there just for Erik :-)] to be sure). allows you to browse, search, and receive notifications of new KB articles related to Microsoft products of your choosing - It's really a must-have resource for system administrators and anyone responsible for understanding and maintaining Microsoft products. It does the hard work for you, and let's you get exactly the information you need. You can subscribe for email notifications, and the emails are formatted nicely and can be delivered on the schedule you choose.

The article at Squaretwo describes how to get the same information via RSS - which is very cool. I use this capability and have found it a great way to catalog articles about the products I am most often dealing with in my job. Anyone who's into RSS and has to deal with maintaining systems or programs, check out the article.

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RSS Stuff | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 15:33:11 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

In response to Download.Ject, Microsoft has just released a patch, which actually makes a change to Windows that disables the ADODB.Stream object in MS Data Access Components. This appears to be more of an intermediate fix than a true patch, to be used until a comprehensive fix that allows ADODB.Stream use without the vulnerability can be prepared.

People can get the update from Windows Update, or at this web page on Microsoft's Downloads web site. If you are a business network user, check with your IT department before you download or apply this fix - They might be applying it for you automatically from a central server, or they may have reasons it should not be applied if there are browser-based applications used that rely on the functionality disabled by this update.

Some will still whine and complain that this is "just a stop-gap fix," and that it doesn't actually repair the flaw. Give it a rest people: This is Microsoft responding to complaints about not getting fixes out soon enough, and they're doing it by making a valuable intermediate fix available to protect users. I applaud that. If you want to have a productive and constrcutive conversation, that's great -- comment here if you like, or go over to the Channel 9 web site, where Microsoft shows it's listening.

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 02 July 2004 13:40:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Thursday, 01 July 2004

Dan Fernandez blogged about a new screen saver starter that uses RSS feeds for its display content:

Loosk like this is Microsoft's first shipped product that includes RSS support. It's the RSS "Screen Saver Starter Kit" in the newly-released C# Express (click to download). The Express programming tools are newly-minted Visual Studio 2005 Express versions.

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RSS Stuff | Tech
Thursday, 01 July 2004 23:33:59 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Monday, 28 June 2004

Evan Feldman has written an interesting article about the process of field trials during the initial development of the Tablet PC. We've deployed more than 50 tablet PC's at the company where I work, and as the guy responsible for that decision (read: they guy whose neck is hanging out), I can say that I have heard the same concerns and have seen the same "celebrity" status (whether right or wrong) attached to using one of these truly nifty devices.

Ultimately, what matters most is finding and implementing a tool that makes people more effective and productive. Among other recent technologies we've deployed, the Tablet is one that is starting to show us its unique ability to help people become more flexible and effective in their day-to-day work. I'll be shocked if Tablet PC functionality doesn't eventually become commonplace or even standard in notebook computers - it just makes sense.

Tablet PCs, OneNote, SharePoint Portal and Windows SharePoint Services, Office System 2003, Live Communication Server, Exchange 2003, and much more -- It's been quite a year for those of us at work behind the scenes. What I especially appreciate is the noticeable improvement in quality in all of these product areas with new version releases, and the resulting increases in use and adoption by end users.

Personally, I've used a Tablet PC since the first models were released commercially more than a year and a half ago, and I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I get to (or unlucky enough to have to, depending on your point of view) test new equipment and software in the process of deciding how, when and whether we should use them at our company. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in the Tablet world -- There's plenty of room and opportunity for this platform to grow, and the potential is certainly great.

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Office 2003 | Tablet PC | Tech
Monday, 28 June 2004 23:26:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

I like music a lot, play some guitar, and will occasionally sing along, but I have never been a big fan of Karaoke. However, William Bragg posted something on his blog that I think I may just have to check out, just so I can see for myself (and so I can say I did it).

Klingon Karaoke.

Uh... Wow... And yes, it's for real.

Willamette Week says:

"Dry-ice fog streams onto the dance floor, setting the scene for tonight’s No. 1 singer. Outfitted in a long black wig, a rumpled prosthetic forehead with bushy eyebrows, and full Klingon evening wear, Qaolin crashes onto the dance floor and belts out a song that sounds like “Cherokee Nation.” Only it’s sung completely in the growl and violence of Klingon. It’s Klingon Karaoke night at the Bodacious Classics Restaurant and Intergalactic Refueling Station in Southeast Portland."

How can you know about this and not check it out? Anyone care to join me on a Thursday night sometime soon? I mean, how can you possibly go wrong? I wonder if they'll let cameras in. Hah.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Monday, 28 June 2004 21:11:28 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Saturday, 26 June 2004

Is it just me, or is there something inherently weird about dragging an AC-powered flat panel display into Starbucks to hook up to your laptop at one of those little tables, when your laptop already has a flat-panel display? /me rolls eyes...

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AudioBlogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, 26 June 2004 23:24:11 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Friday, 25 June 2004

Microsoft has filed the new Sender-ID email spec with the Internet Engineering Task Force. The spec is a hybrid of Microsoft's "Caller ID for E-mail" and the competing-but-similar "Sender Policy Framework" (SPF).

Security Pipeline: "The new specification, called Sender ID, proposes that organizations publish information about their outgoing e-mail servers, particularly IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, in the Domain Name System (DNS) in XML. If adopted, Sender ID would serve as an e-mail authentication system that verifies the message actually originated with the purported address."

This will be a hot item over the next year or so. Expect to see this actually happen. The merged specs that were filed allow verification that the sender domain is legitimate and not spoofed on two layers, and the concept of sender-authenticated email is picking up a real head of steam.

If it flies, the bad effects of all those phishers and spammers will be significantly reduced (at least until they figure a way around that, too...).

UPDATE: Bill Gates' announcement about the new technologies and anti-spam roadmap is viewable on the web. I received the "executive email" from Microsoft a couple days after posting this original entry.

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, 25 June 2004 19:18:28 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Sounds like Roy Osherove's a little bit disappointed he has not received more entries to the "Most Useful VS.NET Add-in/Macro Coding Contest," for which there are some pretty nice prizes.

Since I'm not nearly talented enough to even think about doing this, and since I know a number of people who are, I figured I should post this reminder. Submissions will be accepted only through the end of June, so hurry up! Only new (not re-used) code need apply.

Go here and read the details. I mean, just look what you could win:

1st prize:
2nd prize:
3rd prize:
the most crazy and innovative add-in (not necessarily useful!) will get a special prize from me:

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Wednesday, 23 June 2004 22:38:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Many are not aware that in PowerPoint 2003 (and 2002/XP) there is a feature available called Presenter View, which allows you to use your computer's multi-monitor capability to better control your presentations.

In order to use presenter view, your computer must meet the following requirements:

  • The computer must have multiple monitor capability - check with the manufacturer about this if you're not sure. Usually desktop computers require two video cards in order to have multiple monitor capability; laptops often have the capability built in.
  • The computer must be running an operating system that supports multiple displays, such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, or Windows XP (or later).
  • Multiple monitor support must be enabled by setting the display options. In Control Panel, click the Display icon.
  • Presenter view must be turned on in PowerPoint.

Basically you just set up your second monitor in the display settings and check the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box. Then in PowerPoint, follow the menus to set up the slide show (Slide show... Set up show...), and in the multiple monitors section, choose the extended monitor (your projector output) as the device on which to place the slides, then check the box to indicate you want to use the presenter view.

There you have it: One monitor with your notes and controls, and the other for your audience with just the slides. Cool stuff.

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Office 2003
Wednesday, 23 June 2004 22:13:03 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Thanks to Alwin Hawkins (who has a blog I read regularly), I'm a Gmail user now. He had a couple extra invitations (you can't just sign up, someone has to invite you), and was kind enough to share.

Okay, so there are certain things about Gmail that are kind of cool. I like the idea of being able to organize content by conversation and applying multiple labels (think of them as virtual folders) to a single conversation. Add the fairly advanced searching features, and you've got a pretty flexible email system.

It's definitely not Outlook on Exchange, but then again not much is. Besides, this is 100% web-based. You get a gig of storage space, which is nearly obscene. For a person who needs a free and flexible Internet email account for personal use, it's not too darn shabby.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, 23 June 2004 20:53:38 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)