Outlook 2007 Crash Update

My previous, Sir Crashalot post on Outlook 2007, prompted a comment and email from Steve Greenberg, the Program Manager for the Office Diagnostics tool. He was very interested in sorting out my crash problems and it started a series of email’s between myself and various peeps at Microsoft to help sort it out.

After two days of email’s my problems were sorted. The first was what I initially thought, an incompatible Add-In / Plugin for MindManager 6, whilst the second was the remains of my Office 2003 install. Outlook 2003 should have been removed when I installed Office 2007 but for some reason didn’t. The Office Diagnostics tool correctly noted it as a problem though, which was the start of my little adventure.

The Add-In problem, which was the cause of Outlook 2007 crashing, is simply because Mindjet don’t support pre-release versions of other software, which I found out via these two Mindjet forum links:

So I just like to say a big thanks to Greg Mansius (Outlook Beta Support Engineer) and Steve Greenberg for their help. It’s very much appreciated!

Speedfiler – Outlook plugin

I mentioned this chap in passing earlier in the week. Even with all my waffling on about Outlook 2007, I’m not it’s biggest fan. Far from it. Outlook can be a royal pain in the arse at times. Specifically when it comes to filing emails.

I have various rules and wotnot set up, but half of them don’t work so most of my emails just stack up in the my inbox… or at least they used to until I started using Speedfiler. The name pretty much explains what it does, it files emails fast.

It overrides the oh so obvious Outlook shortcut of Ctrl + Shift + V with the following dialog box:


You then start to type in the name of the folder you want (it automatically focuses on the Folder name contains: box) and it’ll search as you type. If you have more than one folder it’ll list them, but usually you’ll have just the one folder. In which case, it’ll go to it for you so you can hit Enter to file. That’s it. Job done. It’s all via the keyboard so it’s very quick.

Say I want to file an email into a folder called Firewall that’s just come in my Inbox. I hit Ctrl + Shift + V, type fir and hit Enter. Done. It is that quick to use!

I do have one niggle with it and that’s how long it takes to load. It fires up a splash screen whilst Outlook is loading and it goes and checks the various folders it has access to. It does this every time Outlook starts and is a real pain for me when I’m opening Outlook over the VPN. It’s a good couple of minutes before I can use it. On the plus side it seems to be compatibile with Outlook 2007, however the option screens don’t appear to display properly.

Another cool option is that it also overrides the Go To Folder shortcut, Ctrl + Y, with the same dialog. So hopping about Outlook is even easier. Dare I say it, it makes Outlook fun!

There is a 30 day trial available and it costs $19.95 to register. I’ve just found out that Scott Hanselman also has a write up on it.

Sir Crashalot – Outlook 2007

A not so well known knight of the round table, and in my case a series of annoying dialogue boxes. As I said in my previous update, Outlook 2007 grenades itself on exit, and gives this cheerful error message:


The thing that bugs me is that it automatically wants to restart, which I obviously ignore and click Don’t Send. Outlook then reappears, so I go to close it since that’s what I wanted to do in the first place and the error box appears again… and well rinse and repeat several times until I untick Restart Microsoft Office Outlook. Grrrr.

It seems though that Office was watching my incompetence and fired this up last time I went round in circles:


Fair enough, it’s nice and polite, so I thought I’ll see what it comes back with. It then fired off a series of tests and I expected it to whinge about my incompatible plugins.


Nope, the problem is Office 2003! Really? It then took me to the Office Online website and came up with this gem:

Compatibility Diagnostic — Conflicting versions of Outlook found

The Compatibility Diagnostic test identified conflicting versions of Microsoft Office Outlook. To remove the version of Outlook from your computer that you do not want, in Control Panel in Microsoft Windows, double-click Add or Remove Programs.

I don’t really want to uninstall 2003 since I don’t know when 2007 Beta 2 expires and if Office 2007 really did have a problem with it, shouldn’t it have removed it before installing itself? Sigh…

Office Diagnostics is a nice idea, but in this case it’s about as much use a chocolate teapot.

Office 2007 – First Impressions

I downloaded Beta 2 for Office 2007 last week and have been using it at home and at work since then. The install only had just the one speed bump on my work machine, which was this amusing error message:


Hmmmm. Yes, I’ll just close, erm, whatever it is down then shall I? I told it to Ignore and it carried on without a hitch. Activation was a problematic at the time, but I was trying to activate on release day so I left it for a couple of days and it was fine.

I’ve tried both colour schemes, Windows XP (blue) and Vista (grey), and I prefer XP. The Vista style is just a tad too dark and you lose some of the nice detail. Something about the Vista theme just doesn’t look right to me.

Word2007-XPTheme Word2007-VistaTheme

The new look and ribbon set up are great. I’ve used Word and Excel a couple times but from what I’ve seen, I like. The new ribbon makes it so damn obvious as to where the various options are. The fact that it is also context sensitive and changes depending on what you’re trying to do is a real help, although it doesn’t always change. Why, I’m not sure at the moment. One really useful shortcut is CTRL+F1 which hides / shows the ribbon, just to give you a bit more screen real estate.

Most of my use has been with Outlook, and at first glance, it doesn’t look that different since the old toolbars are still there, and the ribbon only appears when composing emails. However it has been cleaned up a bit with the addition of the Navigation Pane on the right hand side of the screen.

Outlook2007-1 Outlook2007-2 Outlook2007-3

The first screenshot shows Outlook like it did in Office 2003, but if you close the Navigation Pane by clicking the << button to the right of the Mail caption, top left, it slides inwards (shot 2). If you then click on the vertical Navigation Pane label, far left, it shows the folder list as a popup (shot 3). This new way of work makes much more sense. I don’t need the folder tree view visible all the time, so I get more screen space for emails. If I do need access to folders, its a click away.

There is the new To-Do Bar on the right hand side which shows your calendar appointments and tasks, but I’m allergic to tasks so have tried my best to ignore it. I’ve also found Outlook to be a little unstable when closing, but I think that is down to plugins I use, and them not being compatible with Office 2007. (They’re for MindManager, Cloudmark Desktop and Speedfiler).

So my first impressions have been very favourable. Word will get a kicking in the next month since I have an assignment and report for college to do. I’ve got some tests to do at work to see if our Word and Excel output still works with Office 2007. Initial tests were not looking good for Word. We use a product called Office Partner (a Delphi component library) which uses the COM interface to access Office, and it looks to be broken now. A bugger really since Office Partner is no longer supported…

Anyhoo, expect more Office related ramblage soon.

File locking and backups

A couple of weeks back I switched to using SyncBack SE, from an old version of Retrospect (6.0), for doing my home backups. I’d got increasingly annoyed that Retrospect would just stop backing up at all, if it had a problem. The main cause was because my Outlook PST was always open / locked, thanks to Copernic Desktop Search (I’ve only just switched to Yahoo Desktop Search in the last week).

I emailed Copernic to see what could be done and they replied that it needed to access the file in order to index it, which makes total sense, but the crux of the problem is that it did this even when Outlook was closed. I had to write an app that would run before my backup (via Windows Task Scheduler), close CDS down and then reload it later. Unfortunately it appears that Yahoo Desktop Search, suffers from the same problem.

This stuck me as quite a nasty problem. Use of search tools from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Copernic et al is becoming more and more widespread and if the backup tools are not capable of working with constantly locked files due to search indexing, then it renders them redundant.

However, there is an answer, which for me was SyncBack. Now there is a free version, but the SE version ($25), has the ability to copy locked files using Volume Shadow Copy Service (part of Windows XP and 2003). Regardless of whatever has my PST (and other files for that matter) open, SyncBack is usually able to back them up. Further to that, if there is a problem, it doesn’t stop running the other backups. It emails me to tell me what the problem is and carries on, which is exactly what I want.

It’s odd, but this strikes me as common sense, I had to write a basic backup program for work a while back that had lots of little jobs to do and the last thing I wanted was for it to completely stop if it hit a problem. That poor program has been replaced with the behemoth that is Veritas Backup Exec.

If you want to find out what has open or is locking a file see here. Also at some point I’ll do a proper write up on SyncBack since it’s an ace little program.

Firefox missing basic functionality?

So Friction the reluctant blogger asked how to remove a search engine from Firefox. Now you’d think “Thats easy, just click remove on the same menu you added it from”. Errr… no. The only options you get from the drop down menu on Firefox’s search bar are the Search Engines to search on and an option to Add Engines.

If you want to remove an engine, god forbid, you need to install a plugin. The plugin is even listed on the page to add new engines (under additional resources), as in they know Firefox can’t do it by default. Its really poor when you have to get a plugin to do something as simple as that!

Blogging from Word 2007

Well this is an unexpected feature, Word 2007 will let you do blog updates. It has the potential to put the likes of Blogjet, w.bloggar, etc out of business. Personally I can’t see it happening, they’ll probably shaft it up but in a way it would be good for competition. Help push the existing apps into life. Since I bought a copy of Blogjet there’s been nothing in terms of updates or news. Pity really since there are lots of little tweaks it could do with (and I have posted on the forums).