Lacie Drives, Designed by Porsche – Who Cares?!

I picked up an external hard drive from a client today. It’s one of these Lacie drives, designed by F. A. Porsche and honestly, why does that matter?

Internally, it’s a Seagate disk like so many others. Externally, there are no screws. That looks good, but it has no real purpose and furthermore means that it will likely get scratched or something if ever it needs to be opened. Like today.

And then, internally, it’s so tightly packed together that removing the disk for diagnostics was too much trouble. I kept thinking I was going to bend/break something. Luckily, I didn’t.

Finally, I see that the internal disk is an old IDE drive, not a newer SATA drive. That means that they slapped a fancy box on older technology in order to get rid of old stock.

Putting a Porsche chassis on a VW Bug might have been cool, but it doesn’t make it go 0–60 in nothing flat.


Windows XP, Outlook 2003 with IMAP, and User Accounts

This week, I had a client whose computer I rebuilt. Standard stuff. New Windows XP. New Office installation. One Admin account, one personal Standard account for daily use.

When I went to deliver the computer, the last thing to do was re-configure Outlook for her email account with Swisscom/bluewin. Also, standard stuff. Or so I thought.

I was trying to set it up with IMAP so that the computer, iPad, and two iPhones would stay in sync. My plan was to set up the computer and then use iTunes to transfer the settings to the devices.

It wouldn’t work. Full stop. I tried with SSL and without. I tried with authentication and without. I called Swisscom for support who tried exactly the same things and said that their mail servers were fine.

The problem we encountered was an *instant* error message when trying to Send/Receive, something about not being able to get the folders or connect to IMAP.

We tried POP3. Worked fine, but that’s not a solution, that’s just more information.

I went to the Admin account, just for laughs. Configured the exact same email account with IMAP as instructed. Worked the first time. WTF?!

I set up a new, completely fresh non-Admin account. Tried the same. Wouldn’t work.

So, it seems as though Outlook 2003 and IMAP have a problem when using a non-Admin account. Can that be? Really, Microsoft?

I’m disgusted, but still looking into it. Maybe it’s Swisscom that’s got it all wrong.

Connecting Windows to Mac via a local network

One of the jobs I do frequently is rebuild Windows computers. This entails backing up the user’s data, wiping the hard disk and re-installing Windows and applications and then restoring the user’s data.

Because of the many, varied reasons why it might come to this, I have learned that the simplest way to back up the data is to physically remove the hard disk, attach it to another computer with lots of disk space and just copy it over. When the laptop is again working, I transfer the data back via the local network.

Easy. Been doing that for ages. Until one day, things didn’t work as planned with Windows 7 and I think also with Windows Vista. I couldn’t connect to the Mac where the data was saved. I’d enter the IP address, enter my login name/password combination and….. fail.

It turns out my default Computer Name on the Windows side was causing the problem. When finishing the Windows install, one screen asks for a Computer Name and suggests things like “Upstairs office”. I always use the client’s last name and a numeric suffix, like “Smith-01”.

That works great with Windows XP, but with Vista/7, that “-” breaks the whole thing!

I changed it to “Smith01” and voilà! Everything is cool.


Swisscom having problems

I was at a client today working on different networking, wireless, and internet problems. Cablecom, Orange, Swisscom, Bluewin….. it took some investigation, but then we called Swisscom because something *very* odd was happening which could only mean one thing. I called them, and before I could really say much, the nice gentleman told me “Yes, we are experiencing problems on our end. We are working to fix them.”

If you have bluewin or swisscom and mail is not working well, this might be why.