Tip: Thunderbird and IMAP caching

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A small tip for all your Thunderbird users who read your email via IMAP.

For some reason I was under the assumption that Thunderbird stored a copy of each message in subscribed IMAP mailboxes. As it turned out, this assumption was 100% incorrect with the default settings, and so a large chunk of email archives that I thought I had stored from 2004 and 2005 are now gone. Darn.

It is possible, however, to enable this life-saving feature. What you have to do is go to your account settings (Tools menu, select Accounts), then on one of your IMAP accounts go to the Offline & Disk Space section. On this page make sure to check the two top options (Make the messages in my inbox available when I am working offline and When I create new folders, select them for offline use), then click Select folders for offline use, and in the window that pops up go through the list checking off all of your important folders (usually everything except for your Trash and Junk mailboxes).

That turns on the feature, but it won't automatically cache all of the email that has already been listed. To do this you simply go to the File menu in the main program, select Offline and then Download/Sync now. The window that pops up lets you select what you want to download (email, news or both), then just click OK to have Thunderbird fly through your email and download it all.

While I'm not sure why this extra level of caching is not turned on by default, a little bit of fiddling to get it working will ensure that you don't end up loosing two years of email.

MySQL Tip: phpMyAdmin export filename

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A quick time for any users for phpMyAdmin and MySQL.

When you backup your database using phpMyAdmin, an "export" in their terminology, by default it names the file simply databasename.txt, e.g. damien_blog.txt. If you do regular backups this becomes a slight hassle as each time you have to rename the file to something more useful, and decide if you want to name it after the date, or add a version number (e.g. "database_backup_5.txt"), etc.

There's an easier way to take care of this. Instead of letting phpMyAdmin name the backup file after the database, have it automatically add the date to the filename too. Then, when you download the file you'll be able to list them in order, oldest through newest, and never wonder whether you named the file correctly the last time, or which one is newer.

To do so is quite easy, simply go to the Export page in phpMyAdmin, change the Save as file filename template to __DB___%Y%m%d%H%i and your backup will now be named e.g. damien_blog_200602131315.txt. What makes this even more useful is if you click the option labelled remember template, that way you'll never have to remember this again, simply click it and all backups that you do from then on (from that computer and that web browser) will be named accordingly.

Note that the date is listed as year, month, day, hour and then minute, which when you have several files listed in a directory one after the other makes it really easy to see the files in the correct order, rather than trying do list them with e.g. the European date format of day-month-year or the American format of month-day-year.

Update: Thanks to reader Jörg for pointing out that the last part of the string should have been %i rather than %m to output the minutes.

New PC for work

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Next Friday I'll be receiving a new PC at work:

  • AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ (dual-core)
  • 1gb RAM
  • 160gb SATA-150 HD
  • DVD reader (I already have a DVD burner to throw into it)
  • Asus Geforce 6800 video card
  • Creative Labs Audigy LS
  • Mitsumi 13-in-1 floppy / memory card reader
  • Windows XP Pro
  • MS Office 2003 Standard

A pricely machine, but one with enough horse-power to keep me going for a good while.

One thing I'm not sure on is what motherboard it have. Given that they offer SLI I'm going to assume it is an nForce4 SLI of some sort, but there's a tonne of them so it coould be anything.

So why did they decide to get it for me? At work I tend to do a lot of extras beyond my description of "web developer" - general IT work, etc. Lately they've started doing more and more with videos - making DVDs, editing & converting video footage, etc, and then it became apparent that my old 1.8GHz PentiumIV wasn't doing so well they offered to let me order a replacement.

The PC is being built by Vision Computers in Atlanta, my boss' boss has been listening to advertisements for them on the radio for a while now and wanted to try them, and given that the machine will be delivered in a week after being ordered (most built-to-order places take longer than that just to build it, never mind delivery times) I must say I'm impressed so far. Along with that comes 3 years parts & warranty service (you cover shipping charges) as standard it becomes an even nicer deal for management, who are always concerned about these things. I must say, though, I was surprised to see them offer only one AMD option whereas they had eight Intel options for desktops, along with their eight Intel-based servers and nine Intel-based laptops.

Anyway, it arrives next Friday and I suspect I'll be spending most of that day installing the beastie with all the software I currently use - Directory Opus, Dreamweaver, Window Blinds, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc, etc.

Yay! :-)

WindowBlinds TIP: Explorer using too much CPU time

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A quick tip if you're noticing that Explorer is using too much CPU time when you're using WindowBlinds.

On my system I was seeing Explorer using upwards of 90% CPU time, bringing my PC to a crawl. I didn't want to uninstall WB so I tried tweaking the settings a bit. In the end I found that if I disabled Skin the quicklaunch taskbar buttons in the Basic Settings tab that it stopped going bananas and everything went back to normal.

Microsoft Outlook won't show contacts

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Another weird one today. A co-worker's install of Microsoft Outlook 2002 wasn't showing any of the contacts he had in his "contacts" address book. As it turns out, this is a bug in Outlook, at least when its running in Exchange Server mode. There are two steps to this, first you add the contacts folder to Outlook then you add it to the email popup window. To fix the problem:

  • In Outlook go to the Tools menu and select Email Accounts.
  • Select Add a new directory or address book and click Next.
  • Select Additional Address Books then click Next again.
  • Under the Additional Address Book Types list select Outlook Address Book and select Next.

At this point you'll get one of two responses, either it will say that Outlook needs to be closed to accept the changes or it will say that your selected folder is already present and can't be added again.

The second part is pretty simple:

  • Right-click on the Contacts folder within your Outlook Folders list and select Properties.
  • Click over to the Outlook Address Book tab.
  • Select the Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book box
  • Type in a relevant name for this particular contacts folder under Name of the address book.
  • Click OK and you're done.

One thing to remember on this is that if you have multiple contact folders, e.g. if you separated them into one folder for personal contacts, one for vendors, etc, you need to go through the second set of steps above for each folder, adding the main Contacts folder won't add all of the other folders; this is actually what turned out to be the problem at work, the main contacts folder was added already but the sub-folders were not.

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