Professional Geek
RSS icon Email icon Bullet (black)
  • Internet Explorer Freezes When Printing

    Came across a bit of a weird issue today I thought was worth repeating here.

    I took a support call where the end user could print documents in Word, Excel, Outlook without issue but as soon as she tried to print something via Internet Explorer no document appeared and Internet Explorer was non-responsive.

    What struck as weird first of was how Internet Explorer was “non-responsive”.

    Normally when a program locks up in Windows it’s pretty obvious. The program visibly changes and Task Manager reports the program as not responding and Windows will give you the option to end the task. In this case it was as thought there was a dialog box hidden somewhere so the rest of the application was off limits.

    After quite an amount of time trying various things I managed to find the problem

    Internet Explorer Protected Mode 

    Protected Mode for Internet Explorer is a Windows 7 feature there to prevent webpages running applications it’s not supposed to. If it attempts to run a program you get a warning.

    image

    In this case the print driver itself was kicking off one of those warnings (this is something I’ve never seen before and I’m still looking into why).

    At some point the user must have click “Don’t Allow” and put the tick in the box for “Do not show me the warning for this program again”. This meant the printer driver was waiting for input, permission to run and never getting it. 

    Unfortunately you can’t re-allow a single application (as far as I’m aware anyway) so you have to reset Internet Explorer to defaults.

    To do this click, Tools, Internet Options, Click the Advanced Tab, click Reset and then in the dialog box that pops up click rest. (Instructions from the Microsoft site are here)

    image

    Once that was done I was able to click “Allow” and put the tick in the box for “Do not show me the warning for this program again”.

    Alternatively if there is a new browser to upgrade to (IE 8 to IE 9 for example) you can do that and it’ll have the same effect as part of the upgrade.  

    After that everything started to print ok!

  • Farmageddon 2013

    On Saturday I did the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever been involved with.

    image

    Farmageddon Run

    10km off road running adventure through woodland, farm tracks and across grassland held on the grounds of Brooksby Melton College’s Spinney Campus.

    The longest distance I’ve ever ran continuously was about 5 miles (around 8km) which I did once during my recovery from my knee injury. At that point I was doing 2-3 mile runs and wanted to see if I could step up to 5. I did it and decided that once was enough!

    So I guess the first question is why?

    Well, why not?

    I’ve said before about how I’m all for new experiences and pushing boundaries and when some friends said they were getting involved I thought it’d be a good thing to do with them. If anything it would certainly be an experience!

    Whoever designed the course must be some sort of sadist. It starts out with a gentle 2km run with a paddle through a very shallow stream, under a bridge and over some hay bales. All very straight forward and fun.

    farmaggeddon (4 of 66)

    Then you’re expected to climb quite a steep hill, come back down again and repeat…at least eight times, on the last couple of climbs they give you a log to carry!! This isn’t even the halfway point of the course.

    farmaggeddon (15 of 66)

    6350_c864From there they threw various different amounts of mud and water at you, none of which smelled particularly nice

    Some you waded through, some you crawled through, some you’d have to swim through if you weren’t tall enough! 

    The running and hay bales kept coming and just when you think it might get easier more near vertical hills suddenly appear!

    Crawling under a cargo net that is submerged in what I can only describe as a large muddy puddle is something I’ll remember for a long time!

     

     

     

    The final stretch gave us another net to clamber under before a sprint for the finish line (I have no idea where I got the energy from to sprint to the line!)

    farmaggeddon (48 of 66) 

    Actually getting across the line was an amazing feeling and any immediate thoughts of tired muscles vanished!

    farmaggeddon (65 of 66)

    I finished the course in one hour and thirty two minutes and finished in 143 place.

    The overall winner finished in just short of an hour so I’m pretty pleased at that as a total amateur and my first ever event. There were 278 total entries so 143rd place put me right in the middle, again something I’m pretty happy about.

    As well as it being as equally fun and rewarding as it was difficult I learnt an awful lot. Many of these things are useful in plenty of other areas I think!

    Long distance running events like this are only in part about physical strength. Mental strength is key. Around the 7km mark ever part of my body was telling me to stop as this was too hard. I really had to push through and tell myself to carry on going.

    Never underestimate having someone to lean on. My friend Stewart and I ran the whole thing together. He’s got much more experience at this sort of thing than I have and if I’d been doing it on my own I can’t say with 100% confidence I’d have been strong enough to push through the hard parts. I’m confident I’d have still finished but would I have slowed or even stopped? Quite possibly. He even ignored my babblings about how hungry I was at the 8km mark! Cheers mate. Smile

    Know when to go alone. We actually started out as a three running together but Neil was carrying an injury. We initially resisted calls from him telling us to carry on without him but being brutally honest when we finally made the decision to actually do that it was the right thing to do. He made it around in his own time but our enjoyment of the event may not have been the same if we had stayed as three. It worked out fine in the end and we all had a great time.

    Preparation is really important. While I didn’t specifically train for the event I was conscious that football aside, I hadn’t done any running since last summer. I made sure I went out six or seven times in the weeks leading up to the event and ran a coupe of miles each time just to get back into the rhythm of running over a distance. I’m glad I did! If I’d thought about it a bit more and done some longer distances that wall I hit around 7km would have been much easier to get through.

    Don’t overdo it! Because of how bizarre our winter has been we’ve been playing catch up on football fixtures. This meant I played football Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the event. With another game on Sunday – ouch. It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it could be but my calf muscles were starting to cramp up half way around. I was actually thankful for the cold water on some parts of the course.    

    The London Marathon was the day after and the amount of respect I already had for those who take part shot up a thousand fold! Not that I have any plans to take on that sort of distance!

  • Dealing With Email Stuck In The Outbox

    Everyone once in while when using Outlook you’ll get messages that just refuse to send.

    Looking down the folder list you see the dreaded number next to the Outbox that lets you know something isn’t quite right

    image

    Clicking on the folder shows the message just sitting there.

    image

    You try double clicking the message and pressing the send button again, you’ve pressed the “send/receive” button, you’ve restarted Outlook but it just sits there.

    The Outlook blog has a decent post with some things to try to help shoo the message along. But I thought I’d share one of the tricks that generally works for me.

    What can sometimes be frustrating is that everything otherwise appears fine. Outlook is reporting as connected (you have checked that’s not the problem though?) and inbound messages are still coming in

    .image

    When it’s really trying to mock you other messages actually send ok!

    So my “tip” is actually pretty simple

    Drag the message into your Sent Items folder.

    image

    Open the message from there and press the send button again.

    image

    Message gone.

  • The Difference Between Apply and OK

    If you make any changes to settings in Windows you’ll have seen three buttons at the bottom.

    OK, CANCEL, APPLY

    OK, CANCEL, APPLY

    I’ve been asked a couple of times recently about difference between the ok and apply buttons so thought that I thought it was worth posting about!

    It’s not all that complicated.

    If you make any changes and press the APPLY button the settings are put into place and the window stays open.

    If you make any changes and press the OK button the settings are put into place and the window is then closed.

    That’s it!

    Both are supposed to be time saving functions depending on what you are doing. If you are making multiple changes but want to see what effect it has as you are working the apply button means you don’t have to constantly reopen the settings window each time.

    The OK button is there for one off operations and means you don’t need an extra click to close the window manually.

    I very often see people who click the Apply button and then immediately click the OK button which says to me it’s not obvious what the difference is.

    I’m hoping it’s obvious what the cancel button is for.  Smile

  • Review: MU Foldable USB Charger

    Sometimes people solve problems with ideas that are so simple you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before. The MU Foldable USB charger is a classic example of that and when the nice people at MobileFun asked if I’d be interested in a taking a look at their phone chargers and I saw the MU was on the list I jumped at it.

    So what’s the problem they are trying to solve?

    Plugs.

    Specifically plugs for chargers (phone, kindle, mp3 player, etc).

    Have you ever tried to carry a charger in your pocket? The pins on the plug stick in everything and the whole thing is is so bulky you end up with lumps in places you probably would rather there weren’t. This means chargers are usually stuffed in bags but if you do a lot of travelling you’ll know bag space comes at a premium so having silly shaped chargers isn’t helpful.

    First thing though the packaging!

    WP_000443WP_000446

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    WP_000449

     

    It’s very stylish packaging and the sort of thing you’d expect from a high end gadget such as a mobile phone or a tablet.

    It makes just unboxing the thing an “experience” but if you’re reinventing the plug then way not add a bit of jazz?

     

     

     

     

    Packaging aside however, what’s different about this?

    It’s a plug…that folds!!

    Here’s how it looks when it comes out of the box.

    WP_000463

    WP_000464

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You then open it up and rotate the bottom set of pins.

    WP_000455

    WP_000456

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    And there you have it!

    WP_000469

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Just a really simple idea that’s executed very well.

    The only real downside with it is that it’s not intended for “high ampere devices such as tablets” so it wouldn’t be the complete solution while on the road.

    MobileFun have them available for £19.99 which is a lot of money on the face of it but if you consider you can get a Belkin USB AC Charger / UK Plug for about £9 (and it doesn’t fold!)  so you may think it’s worth the extra money for the convenience.

    The manufacturers website is here and has much better pictures than the ones I’ve taken!