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Diary of a Geek
by Sheneil Kelley

For those of you who wonder where any particular piece of computer knowledge comes from, the answer is very often "Lots of trial and error." If you're curious how much error there can be from even a skilled computer user, I invite you to follow this column. As I, Sheneil, go through the process of tweaking, upgrading, and using my computers, I'll keep a record of what I go through here. Stop by often, as I'll be updating every few days. And maybe, by seeing my errors, you'll be able to learn enough to avoid them when it comes time to do your own computer work!

BTW, the entries on this page are in reverse chronological order, but all of the archives are in regular chronological order.

Monday, November 26, 1999

I appear to have fixed my Outlook problem... sort of... And no thanks to Microsoft, I might add. The Knowledge Base turned up a bunch of fixes that had nothing to do with my problem, and the Microsoft newsgroups had a couple of people describing my exact problem, but nobody had responded to them. And, scanpst.exe said my .pst file was just fine, even as it failed to delete messages.

Well, as I said, I did fix my problem, but not permanently. It would seem that my Deleted Items folder has filled up! After much experimentation, I figured out that if I removed a message from my Deleted Items, I could delete one from my Inbox. This problem showed up because I never empty my Deleted Items... I kinda use it as a permanent, if disorganized, archive. I may have to change that behavior. But for the moment, I'm keeping things going by removing large chunks of messages from Deleted Items.

Friday, November 24, 1999

Back from COMDEX. Sorry I wasn't able to update while I was out there, but it was all we could do to get the reports out in addition to the regular COMDEX madness. Oh well.

My UPS has arrived. While at COMDEX, we talked with a lot of hardware folks, among them the major UPS manufacturers. Look for our UPS guide to get itself a little updating. But for the moment, I'll just be using the one I got.

A day or two before I left for COMDEX, Outlook 98 freaked out and decided that it wouldn't move messages from one mailbox to another! That includes deleting, so my Inbox is starting to look pretty bad. I didn't really have time to investigate a solution. I'm looking around the Microsoft newsgroups at the moment, and I'll be running scanpst.exe this evening to see if that helps.

Sunday, November 20, 1999

I finally broke down and bought a UPS. This past Thursday, I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business, when sudenly a fuse blew. And guess which fuse that was? I lost all of the work I had done on this week's installment. Needless to say I was really pissed. Of course, in my tech-supportin' life, I've told many a frantic user that, "Well, you should have saved more frequently!" So, the only one I could be mad at was myself... well, myself and my pathetically weak fuse box.

So, this afternoon I decided that, if I didn't get a UPS now, the next time I blew a fuse, I wouldn't have to be mad at myself any more, I could just be mad at my house. :-)

Wedesday, November 18, 1999

A surprisingly large number of weeks ago, I ordered myself some new desk chairs. I can't remember the specific model, but they're from Staples and have about five different ways of adjusting the way you sit. I finally decided that I spend too much time on my computers to be able to afford bad chairs. So, I started stopping at office supply places and trying chairs out. It's really the only way to fly. Of course, it took about a month for them to be delivered to me, but that was Staples' fault, and they gave me some gift certificates in apology

A number of you asked for more information on the MP3 cutter I talked about earlier. Uhh...I'm not sure... I can't find it any more! And I seem to have deleted the executable. I probably got it at WinFiles but a cursory glance didn't seem to turn it up again.

While on the subject of MP3s, I noticed something funky about Winamp. I was zipping a bunch of files (MP3s, actually) in order to preserve long names when burning them to a CD-R. Needless to say, my computer was getting a bit throttled by disk activity. While that was happening, Winamp's top window bar turned in to a standard Windows title bar. It was as if the whole Winamp skin metaphor was breaking down. It went away upon minimization and restoration, but it was kinda cool.

Wedesday, November 12, 1999

I've seriously gotten out of the habit of restarting, now that I run SETI@home. This caused me a moment of confusion this morning. See, late in the day yesterday, in a bout of Y2K concerns, I installed the Office SR2a patch. It suggested I restart, but I had some Netscape windows open and didn't want to lose them. Well, I totally forgot to restart it later, and when I opened up Outlook this morning, all of my new messages were listed as having no From, Subject, or Date fields. I was minorly annoyed until I remembered the patch. Say it with me, "Duuuuuhhhhhhh".