February 23, 2018

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.


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.

How to fix a sticky home button on the iPhone or iPod Touch

Does your home button make crunchy sounds when you press it? Has your home button become harder to press and does it sometimes stick in the down position when you press it? Well the problem is probably nothing to worry about and an most likely be remedied by a simple and quick cleaning.

You’re going to need a cotton swab, some rubbing alcohol and about a minute of time. The video explains it all…

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.

YouTube URL hack lets you access a precise point of a video

I just learned of a neat little hack with YouTube URL’s that enables you to begin viewing a video at a specific timeframe of the video.

Let’s say that you have a video you’d like to share with someone but you don’t want that person to have to watch the beginning of the video. Using this hack you can specify an exact timeframe simply by adding this to the end of the URL. Begin with a hashtag and a “t”, “#t”, then add an equal sign “=” then the number of minutes into the video you want to begin followed by an “m” then the number of seconds followed by an “s” so, “1m36s.” Put it all together and you get:


So if the YouTube URL were http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ but you wanted the viewer to join the video a 1 minute and 36 seconds in you would append the URL so that it looks like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_b7RDuLwcI#t=1m36s

Happy rickrolling.