How-to show a Message of the Day (MOTD) at the Windows Command Prompt

One of the features available under UNIX is the Message of the Day (MOTD). This is run every time you start a command prompt and displays the content of a file. In addition, the UNIX shells allow all sorts of stuff to be run and configured every time you start a new prompt using the .profile and .bashrc command files.

Windows users don’t generally expect that kind of flexibility from their command prompts. However, Windows does indeed support the use of an “autorun” into which you can shoe-horn any command you like.

So for my standard setup, I make the shell autorun run a “.profile.cmd” file that sits in the %USERPROFILE% folder. From that file, I can run anthing I like.

To set up a shell autorun, you have to edit the registry so the usual warnings to be careful and back things up apply. There are two locations you can set, one for the machine as a whole and one for the logged-in user.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor

If you want to set an autorun for another user, you need to go down HKEY_USERS and find the appropriate one, it’s really easier just to log in!

In one or both of those locations, add a new “String Value” (REG_SZ) called “AutoRun” with the value:

%USERPROFILE%\.profile.cmd

Now create that file and put in a message such as:

@echo "Hello and welcome to my command prompt"

Save the file and open a new shell and you should see the message just after the Microsoft copyright.

This should work on all versions of Windows at least from XP onwards.

If you want to add this to a batch file to set up new machines, here is the command you need:

reg.exe ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor" /v AutoRun /t REG_SZ /d ^%USERPROFILE^%\.profile.cmd /f

(Note that the above needs to go on a single line)


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How-to use WebDAV on Windows Vista and Windows 7

Windows is supposed to have a built-in WebDAV client. However, it doesn’t ever seem to have been especially robust and certainly since Vista a lot of people (myself included) have found that it simply doesn’t work on many supposedly WebDAV enabled sites.

Thankfully there are a couple of free (and some not free) options that, while not as nicely integrated into Windows Explorer, do enable you to transfer files back and forth.

The two that I found were:

I’ve tried the first of these two and it seems to work OK. It’s not polished but it gets the job done. There is also an online version using a Java plugin if you don’t want to install the client.

It seems that the second option is no longer in active development. Don’t be fooled by the web site though, they have changed the license to freeware.

Now, at last, I can once again load multiple files to our corporate intranet on WebEx without having to switch to a Linux desktop!

UPDATE 2012-06-20: Further research shows that Windows 7 (and Vista) can be made to work.

The trick is to use digest authentication instead of basic authentication on the WebDAV server. The problem then being that it may no longer work with pre-Vista clients. It is possible that you would need to set up two virtual links to the same folders, on with basic authentication for pre-Vista clients and one with digest authentication for Vista/Win7 clients.

It is also worth noting that http://support.microsoft.com/kb/907306 is supposed to fix this issue for Vista but shouldn’t be applied to Windows 7.

Anyspeak.org has some additional information on making Windows 7 recognise WebDAV servers that only have basic authentication available. However, this requires admin access on the client PC.

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Keeping Control: File and Folder Links for Windows Users

A good backup strategy for any computer involves keeping control of where stuff is stored. The fewer locations that contain files that change, the fewer locations have to be maintained.

UNIX users have always had the ability to keep things wherever they wanted and then to LINK that information into the required location. Basically, links create a link or tunnel between one file or folder and another. Most of the time, you will not notice that you’ve entered a tunnel and you are not interested really.

Windows users, however, have always been the poor cousins here. Stuck as we were in FATland, we had no access to fancy features such as links. So Microsoft in their inimitable fashion created a poor-man’s link – the Windows Shell Shortcut – so that the Windows GUI had some minimal capability (really only for menu’s and Windows Explorer).

Windows 2000 improved on this by introducing “Reparse Points” one form of which is the “Junction“. This is an extension to NTFS that allows folders to be joined (linked) to another location in the local volume space. Making junctions is not an obvious process, you can do it from the disk manager and there is a tool in the Windows 2000 server resource kit called linkd. The POSIX tools included in the resource kit contain the UNIX command ln which can also create junction points and hard links; fsutil in XP can also. There are some third party tools too.

It’s odd because I seem to remember that OS/2 had some kind of linking feature.

Anyway, links of the UNIX type are a massively useful feature that has finally (with Vista, Windows 2008 and beyond) made it fully to NTFS and Windows.

Vista, Windows 2008 and Windows 7 all have a command line tool called mklink. This can be used like the Unix ln command to create both hard links (which must be on the same volume) and soft links. Soft links under Windows can, in fact, span across SMB network drives as well.

You might also like to look at another free tool called “Link Shell Extension” by Hermann Schinagl. This integrates into Windows Explorer, the web site also has a more complete explanation of the history of links in Windows. LSE does a number of clever things and is well worth a look. Hermann also has a “dupmerge” tool on his web site that will replace duplicated files with hard links.

So now, if we want to tweak the HOSTS file for example (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts), we don’t need to leave in place since that would mean that we would need an extra backup routine. Instead, copy it to somewhere that already gets backed up. Delete the original file and then from the command line:

mklink c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts %USERPROFILE%\BACKUPS\hosts

Now you can edit the hosts file from either location, there is only one file (in %USERPROFILE%\BACKUPS). The difference being that even if you delete the file from its normal location, it will still exist in the “real” location. If you delete it from its “real” place in BACKUPS of course, the link will be broken and wont work.

To link a complete folder, it is the same command with a /D parameter added. For example, I keep a folder of command line utilities such as ls, ssh and rsync in a folder on a USB pen drive. I sync that folder to the BACKUPS location on my hard drive for convenience but I need the folder in my PATH otherwise its hard to execute the utilities. I don’t want a really long path, it’s bad enough already, so I link the folder to c:\cmd with the following:

mklink /D c:\cmd %USERPROFILE%\BACKUPS\PEN\cmd

Now I add c:\cmd to the path and the utilities seem to be in both places.

I’ve said in other posts that I like to reinstall Windows now and again but it can be a pain to restore all of the document files. Similarly, if you keep multiple operating systems on your hard drive, how do you keep your documents sorted? One way is to put all documents, videos, music, etc. onto a separate partition. Now, instead of going mad with the Windows registry trying to relocate your normal documents folders to another drive. Simply delete the normal documents folder – %USERPROFILE%\Documents\ under Windows 7 and relink it to the appropriate folder on the other drive as so:

mklink /D %USERPROFILE%\Documents d:\Docs

Put this in a script that you run when you reinstall Windows and its easy and quick.

One final note. You may find a few pieces of software that cannot cope with links. Certainly Subversion cannot though Bazaar can. Windows Explorer seems OK though as do utilities such as RSYNC.


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Version Control for Mortals

Version control systems (VCS, or Revision Control Systems or Source Control Systems) are designed for software developers. They enable one or more people to work on source code, annotate changes, split and merge the code, link to bug tracking systems and a number of other things that are interesting to developers but not to most people!

Indeed then, for most people, you might expect that version control systems are not interesting at all. But you’d be wrong.

What makes them interesting to most people is the fact that most of us are very poor at looking after those all-important files that make up our business assets and often personal assets too. We copy, save and delete stuff without giving too much thought to what we are doing. Then later on we scratch our heads and wonder what happened to xyz piece of critical information. I wonder how many times you’ve gone through your emails to get a document back that you know should be (and may well be) on your hard drive somewhere. With desktop search systems now all the rage, you will probably find the document but then you realised that you used it as a template for another document and accidentally saved over the top! Or it got deleted when you were tidying up the old project folders …

Well, in step the version control systems to save the day. They will benefit anyone who recognise the above scenarios.

I’ve been using a VCS for over a year now for my day-do-day documents. I’m glad I did too as I used it to recover most of my documents after a drive failure earlier this year.

SVN LogoI started by using Subversion (SVN). This is a Centralised Versioning System. It requires a central server that is the hub and master for all documents and changes. It is very well supported and many low-cost web hosts also provide Subversion servers.

It is not ideal though for managing general documents. Firstly it does get quite slow (especially for larger files) and changes can only be committed over a live network connection so it’s no good for disconnected work. Secondly, I found it very sensitive to how it was used and I’ve often managed to get my repository in a mess that was very hard and very time consuming to recover from. This is not acceptable in a system that you have to rely on. I’m sure its fine for its original purpose of source control but it is not so good for managing day-to-day work.

Hg LogoNext I looked at Distributed Version Control Systems. The most popular of these (the free ones anyway) are: Git, Mercurial and Bazaar. Mercurial seemed to be the one best developed for Windows so I tried that. It does seem reasonable but it seems to balk quite a bit at large’ish files (a few Mb, it seems that the Windows interface at least hangs quite often at least on Windows 7) and that makes it unsuitable for our needs. Git seems to have a lot going for it but is not so well developed for Windows and is rather more complex, I haven’t tried it at least yet. So that leaves Bazaar. I’m now using Bazaar in anger and I’m quite impressed. It seems to handle large files sensibly, it is easy to set up (really easy), it doesn’t complain when you move files and folders round, it doesn’t get in the way, it’s reasonably fast. You can also use it with a central repository too like SVN.

Bzr LogoBazaar comes with integration to Windows Explorer but you will probably want to look at the command line options too for automation.

I’ve set up a schedule that runs a commit of my main repository “workdocs” every morning, noon and afternoon (9am, 12pm and 4:30pm) and the extra data that is kept in the repository is simply backed up as part of the regular backup since it is just a hidden folder in the root of the “workdocs” folder.

I then commit changes manually as and when I want to after making significant changes to files.

For really critical files, you could couple Bazaar with the file change detection of SyncBackSE to automatically commit changes or you could use AutoHotKey to intercept the <ctrl>-s key combination to run a commit before or after doing a save.


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Setting list item gaps in Microsoft OneNote (AutoHotKey script)

Although I like Microsoft OneNote and use it continuously, it does have a few failings. One of these is the inability to set the default styles and layout for text.

In particular, when you create a new paragraph or list entry in OneNote, the default – non-changeable – setting is to have no white space between the paragraphs.

This is very poor design and makes more than a small amount of text quite unreadable. I’ve raised this with Microsoft but who knows if or when it might be sorted.

In the mean time, I need a far quicker way of changing this. Currently, I’ve had to:

  1. Select the container with the text I want to format
  2. Use the menu to show the List Task Pane ([alt]o/L)
  3. Mouse click on the text box to change (you cannot tab into it)
  4. Change the 0.00 pt default to something like the 6.00 pt that I prefer
  5. Close the List Task Pane

Not nice!

Having determined that there is nothing clever that can be done in OneNote, I decided that the old standy “AutoHotKey” would be useful. So I’ve created a script for AutoHotKey that will change the inter-list gap for the currently selected container.

; [win]-z Set OneNote list to 6pt separation
#z::
; We need a partial title match but we will also reset to previous setting
oldTitleMatchMode := A_TitleMatchMode
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

debug            := 1                                                           ; Set to 1 to output debug messages, or 0
winTitlePart := " - Microsoft Office OneNote"   ; Partial title of ON windows
winText          := "List"                                                      ; Text to identify List Task Pane - Visible Window Text: MsoDockRight, Task Pane, List
listDefault      := "0.00 pt"                                           ; The default setting for list separation between items
listNew          := "6.00 pt"                                           ; My desired spacing between list items

; Only do something if ON is the active window
IfWinActive, %winTitlePart%
{
        ; We need the List Task Pane to be visible
        IfWinNotExist, %winTitlePart%, %winText%
        {
                ;IfEqual, debug, 1, MsgBox List not active
                ; Send chars to activate menu, can't use WinMenuSelectItem with Office apps
                ;   SendPlay is used to prevent the Windows key locking the PC (Win+L)
                SendPlay, !oL
        }
        ; List Task Pane should now be visible, save the existing setting
        ControlGetText, Var1 , RichEdit20W2, %winTitlePart%, %winText%
        ; If the current setting is the default setting then make the change
        if Var1 = %listDefault%
        {
                ; Focus on the input box &amp; set the text
                ControlFocus, RichEdit20W2, %winTitlePart%, %winText%
                ControlSetText, RichEdit20W2, %listNew%, %winTitlePart%, %winText%
                ; This is optional to check if we were successful
                ControlGetText, Var2 , RichEdit20W2, %winTitlePart%, %winText%
                if ErrorLevel   ; i.e. it's not blank or zero then error
                        MsgBox, %Var1% - %Var2% - Problem - %ErrorLevel%.
                else
                        IfEqual, debug, 1, MsgBox, OK - %Var1% - %Var2%.
        }
        ; Close the List Task Pane (actually it closes the Task Pane, period, sorry)
        SendPlay, ^{F1}
}
else    ; ON not active so do nothing
        IfEqual, debug, 1, MsgBox, OneNote not active

SetTitleMatchMode, %oldTitleMatchMode%
return

OK, so it’s a bit rough-and-ready but it does save a whole lot of time. I’ve got this in my default AHK script so it is loaded whenever I log in and is activated with [win]z.


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Changing system environment variables from the Windows command line

There are several ways to change global or user environment variables manually in Windows. Most are well known so I wont repeat them here (e.g. in Vista or Windows 7, Control Panel/User Accounts, Change my environment variables).

However, sometimes you want to do this from a command (aka script or batch) file. This is not as straightforwards as it might seem. That’s because if you simply set the variable – e.g. set FRED=JimBob – it is only set while you are in that command file. Once the script has finished, the variable will no longer be set.

There are a number of examples of setting system or user environment variables available if you do a Google search but most of them are incomplete – they do not immediately make the new value available to all applications (and particularly to new command shells).

To make sure that the new value is available system-wide, you have to tell Windows to refresh the environment variable list and the easiest way to ensure this happens is to change the variable from a Windows Scripting Host (WSH) script.

Here is an example script to do this. Save this file as something like set-env.vbs somewhere convenient.

'Set/Change/Delete An Environment Variable 
'  In this simple script, we mainly assume that the variable space is USER.
'  The variable is not only changed for the calling script, it also forces a system-wide
'    refresh of the lists so the created/updated/deleted variable is immediately available
'    to all applications.
'
'Syntax:
'  With 3 arguments
'    Creates or changes the named variable in the in the given environment variable list
'    set-env.vbs <variable type> <variable name> <assigned value>
'
'  With 2 arguments - Assumes the variable type is USER
'    Creates or changes the named variable in the current USER's environment variable list
'    set-env.vbs <variable name> <assigned value>
'
'  With 1 argument - Assumes the variable type is USER
'    Deletes the named variable from the current USER's environment variable list
'    set-env.vbs <variable name>
'
'  With no arguments
'    No action taken
'
'Where:
'  <variable type> is one of
'    "System" (HKLM),
'    "User"   (HKCU),
'    "Volatile" or "Process"
'
'Author:
'  Julian Knight, http://www.knightnet.org.uk/contact.htm
'
'License:
'  Permission is given to reuse this code in any way desired
'  No support is given or implied for this code
'

Set WSHShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

' Get arguments
Set oArgs=WScript.arguments

WScript.Echo
Select Case oArgs.Count
        case 3
                ' If we have 3 arguments, assume <type> <name> <value> and create/change
                WSHShell.Environment(oArgs.item(0)).item(oArgs.item(1)) = oArgs.item(2)
                WScript.Echo "Created or Changed Environment Variable: " & oArgs.item(0) & ", " & oArgs.item(1) & ", " & oArgs.item(2)
        case 2
                ' If we have 2 arguments, assume <name> <value> and create/change in USER space
                WSHShell.Environment("USER").item(oArgs.item(0)) = oArgs.item(1)
                WScript.echo "Created or Changed Environment Variable: USER, " & oArgs.item(0) & ", " & oArgs.item(1)
        case 1
                ' If we have 1 arg, assume <name> and delete in USER space
                WSHShell.Environment("USER").Remove(oArgs.item(0)) 
                WScript.echo "Deleted Environment Variable: USER, " & oArgs.item(0)
        case Else
                ' Otherwise do nothing
                WScript.echo "No action"
End select
WScript.Echo

Note that in Vista or above, you will need to run the command file with elevated privileges for this to work. The normal command prompt gets this automatically but if you want to run the file from Windows Explorer, you will need to create a shortcut and change the settings.

You can now use this in your batch command scripts, for example:

@echo.
@REM change http_proxy variable for current user (forces change & refreshes system so new setting is immediately available to everything)
@cscript.exe //nologo C:\set-env.vbs http_proxy http://localhost:3128
@echo.

@choice /T 5 /D y /N /M "Switch complete, now using local proxy"
@echo.


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Windows 7 (Build 7000) still my main desktop OS

A quick update on Windows 7. I’m still using the version from MSDN, Build 7000.

Unfortunately, it will not let me report bugs for some reason, the “Send Feedback” link always fails to authenticate my Windows Live login. However, I do have a few issues and a few likes.

Issues with Windows 7

Possibly Windows 7 Beta Issues

  • Power options only shows 2 out of 3 std options
  • Creating new folder in all users (in explorer), creates new folder but doesn’t allow rename (says folder already in use) yet allows delete
  • Screen resolution seems to randomly reset to something lower (NVIDIA WDM driver). Often can’t be put back to native resolution again without either a reboot or lots of tries and messing. Often happens after UAC prompts, sleep and logon screensaver, also sometimes when plugging in an external monitor. Trying to reset often causes Windows to go to a LOWER resolution that it started with (1024×768 which seems to be some kind of default)
  • Some folders that are accessible from Windows Explorer main interface give “Access Denied” when accessed from file open/save dialogues
  • Windows update failed from behind ISA proxy when using a proxy.pac file even though IE was working OK
  • Send Feedback failed from behind ISA proxy (even though IE works OK) – both on proxy.pac and direct proxy setting – gives invalid username/password. Actually, this always fails no matter what, it is not just a proxy issue as far as I can tell
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 device not recognised (HTC Touch HD) (Workaround: Install Windows Mobile Centre for Vista)
  • Shift-Delete on a picked file does not always delete file (shift-RMB/Delete does)
  • Windows Explorer does not always refresh correctly (e.g. Duplicate file & group entry [grouped by date], files not removed after delete), clears after F5/Refresh. Sometimes the refresh is very slow (2-3 seconds)
  • Wmic command line tool does not work correctly. The examples in Technet do not work if you want to specify an output template. The templates are not in %systemroot%\system32\wbem (note that the example given in Technet incorrect has a leading \) as expected by wmic, instead they are in a sub-folder, .\en-US and wmic cannot find them. You cannot put in a path either it seems. Copying the template to the parent folder does work. Interestingly, the “files” in the sub-folder are actually linked to sub-folders of %systemroot%\winsxs. Reported via technet.

Fundamental Windows issues still around in Windows 7

  • Can’t temporarily or quickly show hidden files and folders (for admin) – have to use the sledge-hammer approach of changing the Explorer settings which means drilling down several menus (NB: There is a script someone has written to toggle this setting)
  • When files/folders in use, Windows still doesn’t say who or what is using them! (e.g. USB)
  • Non-resizable dialog boxes (e.g. Power options/Advanced Settings, Driver Installation, …) – Even IE8 suffers from this (e.g. Customize Toolbar)

    This really is unacceptable in the 21st century!
  • Disk Management still does not allow a partition (at least the boot one) to be moved. It can be shrunk and can expand if there is space AFTER it but not if the space is BEFORE it
  • Add/Remove programmes – this is an area that Linux has really triumphed over Windows. Windows still has no standard way of keeping applications up-to-date. Also ARP still doesn’t enforce proper clean-up of data (especially the registry). At least this process is vastly quicker than previously
  • Mouse wheel scroll actions are still inconsistent (though better than previously). Some apps, you have to click in a list before the wheel will scroll (e.g. Most native Windows dialogs – add/remove programmes, Explorer) & still scroll even when the mouse is not over the list, others (e.g. Office) need only have the parent window active and don’t scroll when the mouse is not over the list
  • Still cannot easily manage NTFS links (hard/soft/parse points) even though they have been natively supported since Windows/NT! Hint: Use Link Shell Extension (though see MKLINK command line tool as well)
  • Still cannot natively mount an ISO image file (even though VHD files are now supported). Still cannot create an image natively. At least you can burn an image to CD/DVD natively now.
  • It’s inconceivable that, in this day of multiple monitors, Windows still can’t have different backgrounds on different monitors. At least there are some handy Windows shortcuts now to move windows between monitors

So, if those are the issues, what about the likes?

What I like about Windows 7

  • It is fast! Certainly a lot faster than Vista (not hard). It’s quick to start up and shut down as well
  • Left hand pane of Windows Explorer is now much better organised
  • UAC not quite as intrusive (though see issues)
  • Task bar – wasn’t sure I would like this but it does work well
  • Explorer Libraries – Nice little tweak to Windows Explorer, adds the ability to add many folders to a virtual folder and set one of them as the default write location

Hmm, that seems as though I dislike Windows 7? Well actually that impression is wrong. Windows 7 really is what Vista should have been. Lets forget Vista shall we, it was a mistake rather like Windows ME.

I’m still using Windows 7 even though I do get some problems so that should say something. If Microsoft and other key partners – hello NVIDIA! – can get the final issues sorted out, this is going to be a crackingly good operating system for any PC built in the last five to ten years.


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How to get and use your local IP address in a Windows 7 (and Vista) batch command file

If, like me, you spend a lot of time on a variety of customer sites, you will probably be familiar with the issues around swapping networks.

I’ve already blogged about the problems with Windows 7, Vista and Firefox proxy settings and I will do some more articles on getting on with problematic proxies later. However, I wanted to let people know how to get hold of your IP address from within a batch (command) file.

@REM ipconfig | find "IPv4 Address"
@REM Find the IPv4 address from ipconfig (13th var if string is split by both @REM and space)
@for /f "usebackq tokens=13 delims=: " %%i in (`ipconfig ^| find "IPv4 Address" `) do @(
   @set MyIP=%%i
   @REM Split addr into components so networks can easily be checked
   @for /f "usebackq tokens=1-4 delims=." %%a in ('%%i') do @(
      @REM @echo %%a,%%b,%%c,%%d
      @set MyIP1=%%a
      @set MyIP2=%%b
      @set MyIP3=%%c
      @set MyIP4=%%d
   )
)

Note the space after the : on line 3. The FOR command used twice here splits the text output from what is in the () after the “in” using the defined delimiters (“:” and space in the 1st case, “.” in the 2nd). In the first FOR statement, we take element number 13 only, it ends up in variable %%i. In the second case, we take elements number 1 to 4, they go into variables %%a, %%b, %%c, %%d.

Now you have not only the full address but also the componants so if you wanted to check whether you were in a particular class C network, you could do something like:

@set corp_addr_ip4=10.97.100.0

@REM == ADD NEW ADDRESS CHECKS HERE ==
@if "%MyIP1%.%MyIP2%.%MyIP3%.0"=="%corp_addr_ip4%" @goto DOSOMETHING

That would check if your local IP address is between 10.97.100.1 and 10.97.199.254

Note that I’ve used the enhanced FOR statement – the “usebakq” makes the FOR statement more like a UNIX type one where commands are enclosed in back-quotes (`). This certainly works for Windows 7 and should, I think, work for Vista. Prior to Vista, you would need to do things differently anyway. At the very least you would have to search for “IP Address” in the FIND statement as IPCONFIG didn’t include IPv6 information.

Now that you have everything in place, you can control the proxy settings for each application that needs access out of the local network. I’ll blog about that another time.


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Critical Bug in Outlook 2007

I’ve recently stumbled on a bug in Outlook 2007. Apparently it is quite well known and the only reason that I hadn’t found it was that I don’t use Outlook as my main email client. In fact I only use email on it to handle meeting requests.

The bug is that Outlook 2007 ignores the setting regarding sending reply requests for IMAP accounts.

If this seems rather irrellivant to you, you might want to think again.

If you have an email account that receives SPAM and you access it via IMAP, Outlook 2007 will ignore your setting for reply requests (the setting is defaulted to prompt). Since many SPAM emails have reply requested turned on, you will suddenly find that Outlook is trying to send a whole load of email messages that do not appear in any folder! You haven’t been asked, it is just doing it.

This is bad enough as you are now leaking information about your account out onto the Internet – but it gets worse!

Outlook does not send the replies out using the account that recieved the SPAM, it sends them out from the DEFAULT account.

So if you have, lets say for example, a work account that doesn’t recieve significant SPAM and is your default account in Outlook. Then you have a second, personal account perhaps, that does recieve significant SPAM. You will suddenly find that Outlook is sending hidden emails from your work account – these are the reply responses from your personal account. Now you are leaking information about your work account.

Now, there is a new, big update to Outlook 2007 that has just been released. It is not yet on Windows Update but Microsoft are touting it as the biggest and best set of updates for Outlook ever – see Jimmy May’s blog post for more information. Sadly though, despite the hype, the new update does not fix this critical bug.

The update – which will be part of the Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Office 2007 – certainly does vastly speed up the operation of Outlook 2007 so there is some good news.


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Sun’s VirtualBox gets on with it!

Yep, I keep being amazed by the quality of VirtualBox which is now owned by Sun.

I need to set up a virtual machine to test and demo Sun’s Identity Management (IdM) suite and it needs to be usable with VMware too. So I headed over to the VMware Appliances web site and downloaded a pre-canned Debian 5 server.

This is recognised fine by VirtualBox! I gave the VM a Host Networked connection to the network and with no further configuration, fired up the VM. First thing was to install some additional components so I used the Debian package manager (aptitude) from the command line (no windowing GUI here!) to install the file and database and web server virtual packages. It just worked, no networking problems at all and being a Host network, it is on my local LAN as well as the Internet with no problems.

It’s nice when things “just work”. That’s how it should be!

Of course, it probably wouldn’t have been quite so simple if I wanted a desktop as well. But there are also a number of pre-canned VirtualBox VM’s for downloading.

VirtualBoxImages and HelpDeskLive.


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