Emails and backups

A neighbour asked me if I could pop in and help sort out her emails as one had sat in her outbox for three days and wouldn’t go. Turns out her scanner was generating 19MB tiff files of her documents which exceeded her 15MB server limit so this was easily fixed by converting the overlarge file into a jpg and resending the email. Changed the default settings on the scanner and job done.

Then I asked the standard question – “Whats your backup?” and after a few questions and answers to and fro, I established that freshly imported photos got to the 3TB external hard drive, whilst scans and PC-generated piks go into My Documents/My Pictures as per normal.

There was no backup. 15GB of photos from 2002 to present. Not backed up.

“But they’re on my hard drive!” she opined. I explained that if the hard drive fails, there is no backup. Then I proceeded to copy all onto D: then set up Windows Backup and schedule (not my first choice, but the WD software for the HDD would not install and it was getting a bit late). I left knowing that in about one hours time, there will be a backup.

Proof that “having an external hard drive” does not equal “having a backup”. What’s your backup plan?

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Outlook – unsent emails remaining in Outbox

Outlook has an intermittent problem in that it sometimes fails to send emails that are in the outbox. I’ve spent a fair bit of time googling* a fix, but cannot find one that reliable and definitive, so I’ve developed a quick workaround that enables easy spotting of the issue, plus first aid that works. Screenshots used here are from Outlook 2007, but I’ve struck a similar problem on Outlook 2003 recently where this advice applies.

This shows before and after Send/Receive (F9) when sending works normally.

Basically it boils down to a lack of timestamps. If an outgoing email appears in the Outbox with a timestamp beside it, it will successfully send on next Send/Receive sync. But if it’s timestamped “None” it just will not go, no matter how many times you hit F9 or Send/Receive. It’s a frustrating bug, as the email will stubbornly sit on your outbox, and if you don’t know or can’t see it, you may mistakenly think the email has gone, and be waiting a darned long time for the recipient to respond.

Before send – no timestamp (or timestamp is ‘None’)- after send there was no change – it didn’t go

First thing to try is edit the email in Outbox. Open the email, add a couple of spaces or a return at the top, save and send. If this activates a time stamp you win. But if not…….

Copy and paste into a new email. Clumsy yes, but in my experience the only reliable way. Don’t forget to copy all the address fields, the title, and the body. Send.

Top email will go as timestamp is ‘Today’ whilst bottom email will not be sent.

And here’s the final step – change your Favourite Folders so that you can spot repeat unsents. They will likely occur! Make an Outbox shortcut there by clicking and dragging Outbox from Mail Folders into Favourite Folders, then right click that new Outbox shortcut and select Properties, then Show Total Number Of Items. This creates a counter beside your outbox fave that can easily become a visual identifier of the problem – if it’s not zero (i.e. not present) then there is unsent mail in your outbox, and it just might be lacking a timestamp. So now you can assess it. But at least you know. And knowing is power. Isn’t that right? 😉

Click and drag ‘Outbox’ from Mail Folders to Favourites. NB this just creates a shortcut, and does not actually move your Outbox anywhere.

*Googling suggests AV plugins, Windows fix and disconnection from email server as amongst many various causes, some of which I’ve tried with no effect.

This workaround allows one thing – getting on with your email, so you can do what’s next after that.

JaunterCreekICT helping you, helping your gadgets.

Passwords and botnets

Image by rob _pym on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/robpym/

It appears that a large botnet of about 90,000 home computers is trying to break into WordPress sites (hat-tip to @TheMacFixer) using a brute force attack. This news instantly made me login to WordPress and review my password security. My existing password was 12 characters, non dictionary, numbers and letters and symbols, uppercase and lower case. So yes, quite secure.

Selecting the new password function I found that a 50 character password generated by 1Password is acceptable to WordPress. So I saved that.

This isn’t it of course, but it looks like rhe6sham0sara3jypi1rhu2purt9thop3xupe2duki6li2rhim

Do your worst, botnets.

Posterous to WordPress migration

                                                                                                                                                     Posterous is closing, and the date is not far away – April 30th 2013. More info here. If you’ve got a blog there, and you want to retain the content, better get a wriggle on.

First, decide where you’re going to move to. Here’s an overview of WordPress, Tumblr, SquareSpace, and Posthaven which are some alternatives. Not all are free.

http://blog.posthaven.com/the-posterous-migration-guide

I have moved four blogs to WordPress, and I’m utilising the free service which limits storage space but not posts. Add-ons such as themes and site customisations are extra. My justification is that WordPress is already successfully monetized, suggesting that its long-term chances of survival are high, unlike “free” platforms like Posterous.

So, let’s see how to migrate our Posterous content to WordPress. Firstly, sign up to get started at http://wordpress.com/ and don’t forget to use an email that you can access regularly and easily (especially if you want to moderate comments) and a nice secure password that you don’t use anywhere else – because that’s best password practise (I use and recommend “1Password”).

Now have a look at http://en.support.wordpress.com/import/import-from-posterous/ to see the steps involved in actually exporting your content away from Posterous, then importing into WordPress. Here’s a quick bullet list summary :-

(1) Export from Posterous – this process takes anywhere up to a few days so do it now. Request your backup then wait. Download the zip file (and save it somewhere that’s backed up, as this will become the only record of your blog after April 30th. If you want an alternative to DropBox, save it in your “Copy” folder where new copy.com users get 10GB free storage– get it from https://copy.com?r=7ejzca )

(2) Now, in your saved zip file location, there will be a file, amongst all the files, called wordpress_export_1.xml – note its location.

(3) Go into your new blog that you’ve created in wordpress.com, and navigate to the dashboard.

(4) Go Tools -> Import and locate Posterous.

(5) Remember your xml file? Get it. Import it. That’s it. Wait a bit. Up will pop your content on WordPress.

Now you get to play with the settings and choose the privacy of your blog, moderation of comments, and theme/layouts/widgets. All good fun.

Then you can notify your followers (maybe via a quick Last Post on Posterous?) and carry on. If in doubt, phone a friend.

“Sorry can you repeat that?”

Regents Park taken on iPhone by @PedroStephano on Flickr

“Sorry can you repeat that?” is the most often used phrase in mobile phonecalls today*  but there is a better way. Access to wifi means you can make calls via apps that use the internet for calls. Here are my favourites:-

Skype – this multi platform app can be used on phone or computer, and does audio calls, video calls and texts (instant messages). Integration with Facebook is a feature so you can easily import all your contacts. Get it from iOS app store or Google Play app store or Skype website (PC Mac Linux)

Vonage – this Canadian VoIP company does home phones, business phones and mobile apps all over the internet. Their home phone is seriously good, while the app offers audio calls and texts, and has recently added video calls (which I haven’t tested yet – mental note done) grab it for iOS or Google Play or check out their website

VIBER – does all of the usuals – audio calls and texts (but no video). Main claim to fame is that it’s free and available in many countries worldwide so saims to compete with the dominant WhatsApp for texting abroad. The app imports your contacts then checks to see if they are on Viber, and also pings you if they join. You can have it for iOS or Google Play or check the Viber website for more platforms and options.

Judging? I use Skype most because it’s most familiar, and like Vonage most for reception, call quality and user interface. Viber comes a respectable third and is worthwhile having purely as an alternative. But this is just three – I’m sure there are more. Suggest your favourite below.

*citation needed

I am risen! A return to blogging and my Tour

Great to hear! Cheers from here 🙂

Charon QC

Over the last three months I have been rather ill – an understatement.  It was a close run thing.  I shall leave it at that – but thank you for your kind emails and tweets.

I return to blogging and my Tour – initially, with some profiles and podcasts remotely done over skype, but back on the road in the Jag Rouge soon.

I get a lot of support from law firms and others for my tour – so I try to ensure supporters get something back – hence the many recent guest posts. I am grateful for the support for the project  – not being a rich man!

On this day when Mrs Thatcher dies – I leave you with two tweets I put up before the news broke to leaven the rather unpleasant tweets I have seen on my timeline today.

TWILDEBEEST n. Tweeter armed with pitchfork, flaming…

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BT misleading envelope ‘£16 a month gets you Totally Unlimited Broadband, TV and calls. Wow’

On the doorstep is, on first inspection, a pretty fine offer……..

Image

That is until you open the mail and read the actual offer. The calls are weekend only, and line rental is additional. The fee changes to £21 per month from month 19. There are a total of eight Small Print items to wade through to fuly interpret the offer. Which is NOT a wow offer by the time you’ve read all that.

Misleading? Yes, I would agree. Certainly it pays to read the small print. Thanks BT, but I’m out.