August 17, 2017

Microsoft Office 2011 Outlook won’t launch

This morning while I was checking my email I experienced a power outage. [Note to self: Buy a new UPS to replace the one under my desk that has dead batteries]

So of course my computer had an inelegant shut-down right during the exact moment that Outlook was retrieving email from the server.

Once power was restored, I started up my iMac and attempted to launch Outlook 2011 from the dock. It would not launch. When I clicked on it, it the icon would bounce once and then nothing else would happen.

Uh-oh.

First thing to do is to visit the Console and see what kind of error message you might find in the log. If you’ve never visited the Console, you’ll find it in your Applications/Utilities folder. When you launch Console, find the time that the problem occurred. In my case the log looked like this:

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 10.18.01 AM

Notice what it says at 8:53:05 AM. This indicated that the cause for Outlook not opening had to do with the database… that means my “Main Identity” had a corrupted database as a result of my iMac suddenly losing power.

Next step then is to attempt to rebuild the database and this is accomplished by holding the Option (or ALT) key on your keyboard as you launch Outlook either by clicking on its icon in your dock, or by double-clicking on the application directly.

At this point the Microsoft Database Utility should launch and you’ll see this:

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 9.36.28 AM

You’ll want to select “Main Identity” and then click “Rebuild”

Hopefully you will then see your computer progress through a rebuilding process that takes 5 steps:

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 9.35.48 AM

 

Once the database has been rebuilt, your original Main Identity will be re-named “Main Identity [Backed up 2013-01-24 09.35.34]”, but of course yours will have a different timestamp.

At this point you cross your fingers, take a deep breath and attempt to launch Outlook 2011 again. This time you should find that things are back to normal and it will launch normally with a freshly rebuilt and hopefully trouble-free Main Identity database.

Mountain Lion Dictation time limit

I was not particularly excited to upgrade to Mountain Lion, OS X 10.8. There was one feature however that I really wanted to take advantage of,  namely Dictation.

I’ve been using Dragon Dictation on my iPhone and find it quite accurate and very helpful for creating quick emails and notes in lieu of using the abysmal on-screen keyboard. I figured that Mountain Lion would have a great implementation of a dictation app and it does, sort of.

The accuracy is quite good. I can speak rather normally and have had very few mistakes in the text output. The most glaring limitation I’ve found is that there is a roughly 30-second time limit for dictation. This reduces the usefulness of the app to almost that of a novelty.

Try this… start dictating and count from “1.” See how far you get before Dictation beeps at you and stops.

Better yet, I’ll do it right now and paste the text result right here:

123 456-789-1011 1213 1415 1617 1819 2021 2223 2425 2627

A couple things to point out here… I was counting normally with a slight pause between each number. As you can see by the transcript, Dictation combined my numbers into groups, in some cases placing dashes between numbers and didn’t make a single mistake other than the formatting of the numbers. Speaking normal sentences gives a much more satisfying result, but with the time limitation it is not very practical.

I’m extremely disappointed that I cannot dictate for longer than 30 seconds. The time limitation makes Dictation a mostly useless feature for dictating emails, letters or anything other than very short blurbs.

Dictation was the main impetus for me to upgrade to Mountain Lion. I’m just beginning to explore the other features of the OS, but Dictation is a big disappointment primarily because of the time limitation.

How to combine PDF files in Preview under Snow Leopard

A handy feature of Preview is the ability to open two PDF files and combine them into a single PDF. The method used to accomplish this is different in Snow Leopard than it was in Leopard.

Here is the method to use in Snow Leopard

  1. Open each of the individual PDF files. This will result in two or more Preview windows being open, each of which containing a PDF file.
  2. Choose which PDF file will be the target file; the one in which all the other PDF files will be added to. PLEASE NOTE: if the PDF target file is actually a JPG image that has been opened in Preview, then you will need to convert the JPG into a PDF first or the combining operation will not be successful. To convert the JPG to a PDF, save it and be sure to choose “PDF” from the “Format” drop-down menu.
  3. Ensure that you have opened the sidebar for each PDF window and that the sidebar is in Thumbnail view.
  4. Drag the thumbnail of each PDF on top of the thumbnail in the target PDF (the one in which you are combining the PDF’s to.) NOTE: You cannot drag the thumbnail below the thumbnail in the target PDF or the files will not be combined, they will merely be two documents opened in the same window, but when you save the file, they will not be combined but instead will revert to their individual file state.
  5. Once you have dragged all the PDF’s to the target PDF window, you can easily rearrange the order simply by clicking and dragging each thumbnail to the order you want.
  6. When the order is how you wish, save the PDF. Congratulations. You have just combined multiple PDF files into a single PDF file.

In Leopard, the technique is similar. Instead of dragging the thumbnails on top of the target PDF thumbnail, you merely drop it underneath the thumbnail in the target. Then save as in Snow Leopard.

Here is a brief screencast demonstrating this.

TinyGrab review, bare bones screen grabs

tinygrab-screen-captureTinyGrab is a new screen grab app that harnesses the power of the MacOS’s native screen capture utility and adds the ability to instantly have that screen grab uploaded to a server, either the tinygrab server or ftp’d to your own server. If you choose to use tinygrab’s server, you also have access to shortened URL’s to that image and the ability to store or delete the images from their server.

I first learned about TinyGrab from MacHeist. MacHeist is best know for offering amazing bundles of Macintosh shareware at ridiculously low prices. Over the last couple  years, I have obtained some great deals beacuse of their bundles. Well,  MacHeist currently has what they call a  “nanoBundle” available that includes 6 apps and they are offering this software bundle for free, but only for a few more days. Check out their website to learn more.

So back to TinyGrab… it’s cool because it only requires that you use the standard MacOS keyboard shortcut for screen capture namely “command-shift-4” which gives you a crosshair cursor with image dimensions to enable you to click and drag the precise size of screen area you want to capture. Once captured, TinyGrab saves the image to your desktop and instantly uploads (or ftp’s) the image to the server. Once the upload is complete, the menubar icon for TinyGrab flashes and a notification sound chimes (this notification sound can be changed or disabled in the TinyGrab preferences).

TinyGrab is a young  product and has some issues. Currently there is no way to batch delete screen captures that have been uploaded to their servers. You have to go through a 5-click process to delete a single image. This is clearly not efficient and they have already indicated that a new improved method will be in place soon. Another issue, at least right now, is that as a result of the deluge of people obtaining  and using the app because of the MacHeist promotion, the tinygrab.com server has been overwhelmed and I’ve been experiencing frequent page errors when accessing the control panel of their website.

In spite of these early issues, TinyGrab might be worth a look if  what you need is a really quick way to do a screen grab and then be able to provide a URL to someone else to view or obtain that image.

It’s one of many screen grab choices. What do you think of TinyGrab?

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Skitch review: powerful screen capture and sharing software

skitchI’ve been amazed at the usefulness of Skitch, a screen capture and sharing app that I’ve been using for quite some time. It just can’t be beat.

Skich is innovative, fun to use and absolutely fantastic. It’s from the same guys (plasq) who developed Comic Life, a truly amazing app that has far more functionality than meets the eye.

There is certainly no lack of screen capture apps; why the MacOS even has a basic screen capture utility built right in which is accessed by command-shift-3 or command-shift-4. But if you want more flexibility in what you want to capture with the additional capability to share it easily, you must use one of the other alternatives.

Many of you have probably heard of Jing, a free screen and video capture program from the same folks who produce Camtasia, the awesome full-featured screen capture program. I’ve been happily using Jing for about a year but it is a bit cumbersome to use for quick screen capture and I dislike the constant plugs for TechSmith products that you are forced to see when using the product. Oh, the price we pay for using freeware.

Skitch on the other hand is way more useful as a screen capture utility because it has so many additional features. You can easily grab a portion of a website for instance, then use tools to draw a circle around something, add text to point something out then in a flash, upload it to Skitch.com on your personal space, or send it away in an IM or email. Truly powerful, flexible and feature rich. It’s been in “beta” for a long time and I’m not really sure why. All I know for sure is that once you spend a few mintes with Skitch, you’ll end up wondering how you managed so long without it.

I’d love to hear your opinions of Skitch. Do you have a favorite screen capture app that you use? Let me know.