Fixing an agonizingly slow Exchange / Outlook 2007 connection

Microsoft Exchange Proxy SettingsHave been banging my head against various surfaces trying to figure out why a new account with is so slow with Outlook 2007.

Intermedia of course wanted to blame Comcast, which showed some minor packet loss ’round about their interface to Level 3 in NYC. Comcast in turn scoffed at this and suggested placing the blame on Exchange.

Finally got a suggestion from Intermedia support to check RPC over HTTP. Sure enough the “On fast networks, connect using HTTP first, then connect using TCP/IP” was off. Switched on, used KnockOut to force a quick restart of Outlook.. and suddenly no more ten minute logon process! Now let’s see if the random freezing also goes away.

My bad for not double checking what autodiscover was doing over there in the corner during the install process.

Testing Regular Expressions with Expresso

ExpressoThis cool little tool from Ultrapico saved me a ton of time while attempting to whack together a fairly complex regex today. Though it can be a bit clunky at times, in general Expresso is extremely useful for visualizing how your regular expressions are stepping through test data. The layout is simple and intuitive. And best of all, it’s free.

Also played around with Jan Goyvaerts’ RegexBuddy, which is definitely the more slick of the two (real-time search while typing) and highly recommended by flagrant regex badass at large Steve Levithan. Nevertheless I found it easier to see what was going on in Expresso and, as I may have mentioned above… free.

Problems with the Printing Assistant

I recently wrote about what a nifty tool the Outlook 2007 Calendar Printing Assistant is. And it is nifty, yet a few annoying issues that have left us relying on printed screen shots instead. Hrrm. Unfortunately, the Printing Assistant:

  1. Doesn’t render items in the calendar in the same left-right order as Outlook. (Neither does OWA for that matter.. This is a really minor point but seems to drive some people absolutely crazy.)
  2. Doesn’t apply category colors.
  3. Doubles-up appointments on occasion for no apparent reason.

The last two points, especially, justify our decision to just bang on the PrtSc key when needed.

That and I can’t quite seem to figure out how to rework some of the .xcal templates so that we can change working hours. (Which would ideally already be read from the calendar settings in Outlook.. Double Hrrm.)

Just can’t get good tail…

At least not when doing Windows.

I’ve tried a couple of free GUI-esque applications for tailing logs on Windows servers, but none of them have really panned out. Tail for Win32 is fine for small log files, but stops working when you get into the multi-megabyte log range. Plus it has a creepy icon.

mTAIL looks good, but returns a frightening “Unknown Publisher” error in Windows 2003. Same for the free version of Bare Metal’s tail, WinTail.

MakeLogic (motto: “We are excited that MakeLogic is delivering” — Microsoft. What?) has a Java Tail that also looks promising, but is still clunky and gives random ArrayIndexOutOfBounds errors.

And then there are the for-fee version like BareTail, Hoo WinTail, HPS WinTail, and Tail4Win. All seem very nice… but then, I don’t pay for tail.

So ultimately I’m back to good old tail -f via Cygwin (which I swear didn’t used to work). I understand that the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools provide similar functionality; however if I’m going to catch tail from the command line, I need to do it from bash.

Something’s wrong with me… Suddenly I want a watch.

The “Cranky”Specifically, this watch.

I don’t think I’ve worn a watch since 2001 when the keitai become my never-leave-home-without-it portable gizmo of choice. But there’s something about this watch. The “Cranky”. Like me… Meaning simple and stylish. And cranky.

Actually, Yodobashi Camera has a whole collection of these “art watches“. I’m going to have to check this out when I’m in Tokyo next month.

Knockout Outlook

KnockOut is a wonderful little “Outlook Companion” that I just (re)discovered and, though it’s over five years old, still works fine with Outlook 2007.

If you’ve ever had to switch back and forth between profiles in Outlook (or.. if you’ve ever just wanted to turn the damn thing off for awhile so that your could clear your mind without getting email and — in my case — irrelevant appointment reminders thrown in your face), you’ve probably noticed that Outlook often doesn’t really shut down quickly. Or ever.

KnockOut in ActionKnockOut snaps a little icon into your taskbar that clearly shows Outlook’s running state. If Outlook is hiding zombie-like under the desktop, just click”Terminate Outlook” to shoot it in the head. You can also launch new email, task, calendar, etc. items from Knockout’s popup menu. Nice touch.

At 37 KB I’ve simply dropped KnockOut.exe into my quick launch bar and pull it up as needed.

Sumatra PDF

While getting document viewers deployed onto Japanese handsets I’ve consequently mucked around with more than my fair share of PDF utilities over the last three or four years. Sumatra has got to be the best one I’ve come across. Simple and lickity-split fast.

Now if it just wouldn’t crash on Japanese documents.