March 25, 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.


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…

Remove Sansa Clip+ Duplicate files preceded with ._ in track listing with dot_clean terminal command

I’ve got several Sandisk mp3 players… Sansa Fuze, Sansa Clip and Sansa Clip+. They all exhibit a peculiar issue with track listing names. The “problem” is that there seem to be duplicate track names for all the music that I’ve added to my Sansa by dragging the tunes in from iTunes on my Mac.

I was fortunate to have an extremely helpful and knowledgable chat session with a Sandisk support person named “Apollo D.” In conjunction with that chat session and some additional Googling this issue, I have finally found a solution for this vexing problem.

Basically the “._” in front of the track listings is a result of the way that Mac OSX handles filenames. When you drag your iTunes tracks into the Sandisk player, the “duplicate” file names get created as a result of this MacOSX naming issue. What is bothersome is that you cannot delete the files directly from the player because as soon as you click on one of them, the player scans to the next “real” file and begins playing it. So you never get the chance to get to the delete menu on the player to delete the “duplicate” file name. Furthermore, these duplicates are not really music tracks anyway and don’t play. You also cannot see these files when the player is hooked up to your computer so you are not able to delete them this way either.

The solution is relatively painless and here is what you want to do to rid your Sandisk player of these files. If you must know more, then just Google…there are many places that discuss the “dot_clean” terminal command.

1. Make sure that the System Settings > USB mode on your player is set to MSC.
2. Hook your Sandisk player up to your computer via USB.
3. Launch the Mac OS terminal (Applications>Utilities>Terminal.)
4. At the prompt, type in the command:dot_clean
5. Hit the space bar one time to insert a space after dot_clean
6. Locate the icon of your Sandisk player on your desktop and drag the icon of the player into your terminal window. This will copy the path of your Sandisk player into the terminal window.
7. HIt Return
8. That’s all there is to it. You terminal window should have returned you to a new line after completing the command you just issued.
9. Unmount your Sandisk player.

Now after the player refreshes itself after it has been disconnected from your computer, you will notice that all the “duplicate” tracks have been removed.

If you add new tunes to your player after doing this the first time, you will have to follow this procedure again to rid the newly added files of the ._ track names.

HP dm3-1030us touchpad freeze and unresponsive after waking from sleep

hp-dm3-1030usWhat to do about the HP dm3 touchpad that freezes and becomes unresponsive after waking from sleep. I purchased a HP dm3-1030us laptop from Staples recently. For the inquiring minds, I paid $499 after rebates, a price that I am quite content with. All things considered, this is a very nice laptop for the money and I plan to give it a full review soon.

One problem I immediately encountered however had to do with the touchpad becoming unresponsive once the computer awakens from sleep. No matter how much force was applied to the touchpad or whether the left or right buttons were depressed, the on-screen pointer wouldn’t budge, or would only move a slight amount. And in some cases it would change to a magnifying glass icon and be stuck in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Even more strange was that this issue would sort of resolve itself after 5-10 minutes. After that period of time, the touchpad would simply begin working normally. This was really aggravating behavior and I was just about ready to return the laptop for a refund. But I have since spent some time Googling this issue and discovered some good conversation about it in the HP Support Forum.

What my experiences have unearthed are several ways to work around this problem. I’m not a big fan of workarounds as I’d much rather have a solution that is not a workaround, whether that means a driver update or whatever. But in the meantime these suggestions may help resolve your touchpad issues.

In no particular order since they all seem to work for me…

  1. Before putting your laptop to sleep, depress the button between the space bar and the touchpad to disengage the touchpad altogether. This essentially turns off the touchpad. You’ll know it is turned off because the indicator light will change to an amber color. Once the touchpad is turned off, you may safely put your computer to sleep. When you wake your computer from sleep, enter your password if necessary and then depress the button again to turn the touchpad back on. The color of the indicator light will change from amber to white and you should be good to go. This method has worked for me consistently.
  2. In lieu of turning the touchpad off before putting your computer to sleep, you can try this instead. Open up the control panel and navigate to the Devices and Printers menu, right click on it and choose Mouse Settings. When the Mouse Properties window opens, click on the Multitouch Gestures tab and deselect all three checkboxes. Apply the changes and close the window. This method also stopped the freezing problem for me, but this method disables multitouch gestures so that may be reason enough for you not to choose this method if you plan on using gestures on the touchpad.
  3. The simplest fix and one that has also worked for me is to simply have a bit of patience. When you wake your computer up from sleep, just chill for about 10-15 seconds before you touch the touchpad. It seems that just waiting for 10-15 seconds may be enough time for the touchpad to resume normal operation upon waking from sleep.

I hope one of these three methods will work for you and if it does, let me know.

By the way, I did notice that there is a new BIOS update for the dm3-1030us available on the HP site. It is the bios version F0A.

UPDATE: In the HP forum, there has been another suggestion for fixing the touchpad freeze issue, although it makes no sense to me, but the fix is this…
Go to Start menu > Control Panel > System and Security > System > Device Manager > System Devices. Find “ACPI Lid” and right click on it. Select “Update Driver Software” and in the next window select “Search automatically for updated driver software”. It will search for a moment then report that the best driver software for your device is already installed. Doing that will supposedly also fix the touchpad freezing issue. Does it make any sense? No it does not. But people are reporting that it has fixed their freeze issue… go figure.

UPDATE: I have to conclude that the ACPI Lid “fix” is pure rubbish. I turned multi-gestures back on and did the suggested “fix” of searching for a non-existent ACPI driver update and after my computer woke from sleep my touchpad returned to its problematic state of freezing and displaying magnifying glass icon and being generally unresponsive.

UPDATE: There has just been another BIOS update for the dm3-1030us which brings the BIOS version up to F.22 A. This new update is reputed to fix the touchpad issues. I have installed the update and am waiting for a while before concluding that the problems have been fixed.

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iMac slowing down? It’s time to visit the Console

Console-MessagesWhen your computer was brand new, it seemed so fast. Remember? And now, a couple years later you find yourself mumbling and grumbling because everything just seems so slow. Switching apps seems slow, launching apps takes forever, you are constantly seeing the spinning beach ball.

There are many reasons why a computer can begin to slow down. Looking in the Console is an oft overlooked tool in diagnosing these issues but there are more steps to be taken and in a future post, I’ll delve into that subject in greater depth. For now, one of the first things to do is to check permissions by using Disk Utility. When you launch Disk Utility, you will want to select your boot drive and then click on Repair Disk Permissions. This is a good habit to get in to… you cannot get into trouble by checking permissions every few weeks or so. This periodic task can resolve many quirky issues.

If you are still experiencing sluggish performance another place to check for leads as to what may be contributing to the slowness is your Console app. You’ll find this helpful app in your Applications > Utilities folder. This is where you will find all the logs pertaining to system errors and such.

Frequently you will find a particular error repeating itself hundreds of times a minute. You can literally have thousands of repeating errors occurring for a variety of reasons. This continual logging of repeating errors will consume a lot of processing time and can really slow down your computer. As an example, for the last couple weeks my computer was so slow I was just about ready to take the drastic measure of reformatting my drive, reinstalling Snow Leopard and then migrating all my apps, docs and settings from my backup back over, just to clean things up. But I visited my Console and noticed a repeating error. The error was: “11/10/09 10:23:07 PM – Tue, Nov 10    kernel    USBF:    140949.261    << _mouseParameter.button[1]=0x0” and it was repeating over and over again.

Here is what the console log looked like.


After a bit of investigation and Googling, I concluded it was caused by my Logitech Marble Mouse. I had deinstalled the Logitech Control Center a few weeks ago to resolve another issue I was having and by doing so, the mouse was causing repeating errors that were being logged by the thousands in Console. I reinstalled the Logitech Control Center software and after a restart noticed an immediate improvement in computer response. And the errors stopped completely.

So, before taking drastic steps, do a few basic steps first and make sure checking the logs in Console is one of those first steps.

How to determine absolute path with a tiny php script

I was recently installing the fantastic forms plugin for WordPress, cForms on a new website I was building and ran in to an issue trying to determine what the absolute path was to a specific directory.

Let me digress for a moment… cForms is an immensely powerful forms tool that you can use on your blog to create stunning forms. Multi-page forms, forms that use ajax, forms that enable users to upload files and the features really go on and on. It may be overkill for you if you just need simple contact form type functionality, but if you’re looking for the atom bomb of form generation, cForms is your ticket to paradise. Now back to the story…

cForms was asking me for the absolute path to where I wanted files to be uploaded. So using Fetch (my ftp client of choice) I simply copied the address and pasted it into the cForms field. Well, cForms complained that it was not correct and that it couldn’t find that directory I specified.

After digging a bit I discovered a simple php script that you can insert into an otherwise blank text document. Name it basically anything you want. I named my file, “absolute-path-script.php” and uploaded that file into the directory that I wanted to be the upload directory for cForms. Once you’ve uploaded the file, you simply need to access that php file from your browser. For instance if you put the php file in your wp-content/uploads directory, then you’d point your browser to
“http:// www.YourWonderfulWebsite .com/wp-content/uploads/absolute-path-script.php” and in your browser window will appear the absolute path to that directory.

It’s so simple it hurts.

Here is the code that makes the magic happen. And don’t laugh when you see how short and sweet it is. You’ll thank me later when you realize it saved you many frustrating minutes trying to figure out what your absolute path was because you’re on Blue Host or somewhere like that. By the way this is nothing more than a Unix command that translates to “Get current working directory”.

echo getcwd();

Hope that helps you out.

Was I hacked? “kosa-target-image” issue

One of my client websites was built using CMSmadesimple. It’s a robust content management system that I enjoy using for the most part. While editing a page on my client site, I discovered some odd code that I did not knowingly insert. The code was as follows… [Read more…]