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#742: Entourage '04 to Outlook '11, Outlook Express Migration, RotW: MacBook Sleep LED, Hulu vs. Parent

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday,

After about eight weeks apart, I drove a few hundred miles to pick up Owen. He likes to “sing” when he’s very excited, and he jumped on me and sang for about 10 minutes when I walked in the door. He’s at my feet right now in my office, and we’re both very happy to be together. We spent the weekend moving back in to my place in Vermont, and I’m headed to Manchester to finish emptying out the apartment there after Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s been raining all day and hovering near the freezing mark. The river is rising, but I sure do wish all that water was coming down in frozen form. Of course, though, I’ll be wishing for Spring before too long.

For those of you within range of one of our retail store, be sure to check out our Black Friday specials. All the deals will be posted one day early, on Thanksgiving, so you can know what you’re looking for come Friday morning. As always, a constantly rotating list of specials can be found all year at smalldog.com/specials.

I wish you all a joyous and safe Thanksgiving.

Matt
matt@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Upgrading from Entourage '04 to Outlook '11  
   
 

A few weeks ago, I updated a large office to Office 2011. They had been using Office 2004 but found it had issues after their Exchange server was upgraded to 2008. They initially purchased one license for Office 2011 and used it on a test machine. They were pleased with the performance of Outlook with their upgraded Exchange server, so they decided to go ahead and upgrade the whole office.

As with previous versions of Office, 2011 has the ability to import settings and content from the previous version. After installing the Office suite, I was able to open Outlook and tell it to import information from the Entourage 2004 database. All appeared to work well; all contacts appeared, emails flowed in and all email folders appeared to have imported. However, at the tail end of the upgrades it was revealed that all of the “On My Mac” folders—while visible—were empty. This was consistent for all users.

My first step to resolve this issue was to try a fresh reimport; this time, I asked Outlook to only import the mail from Entourage 2004. Once again, all of the folders populated but they were empty. Next, I opened Entourage (which I luckily had not erased yet) and exported just the messages by going to File > Export, exporting “Items to an Entourage archive” and only checking off “Mail.” Then, in Outlook, I first deleted the empty folders, and then imported mail by going to File > Import and importing from the archive I had.

Since this company uses an Exchange server, reimporting all of the messages from Entourage did not create duplicates. It did, however, correctly import the messages within the “On My Mac” folders, which were the only messages not kept on the Exchange server. This was easy to repeat on everyone’s machine, but I sure was glad I had waited to deleted Office 2004 before giving each user a chance to check out 2011.

I’ve done a few subsequent installs of Office 2011 and have found that this importing glitch does not occur all the time. While it happened 100% of the time in this office of Exchange users, I did a 2004 to 2011 upgrade for a home user who had an IMAP account and his “On My Mac” folders and emails all appeared just fine. However, his contacts did not transfer properly and I did need to export those manually from Entourage 2004 and import them into Outlook. The moral of the story is for those of you out there upgrading to Office 2011, do yourself a favor and skim through your folders, contacts and calendars before deleting the previous version of Office. It can save you time and frustration!

 
   
     
  Switching Tip: Outlook Express to Outlook 2011  
   
 

Small Dog regularly provides PC to Mac data transfers, and even provides free basic data transfers when you buy a new computer. There are many tools that can be used to perform PC to Mac transfers, one of which is called Outlook2Mac. It’s developed by a company called Little Machines, and is in constant use in our repair facilities.

Late last week, a customer came in with a tired Dell running Windows XP. At check in, the sales staff completed the transfer documentation for me to work off of, and part of the work order was to transfer email from Windows Outlook to Mac Outlook, one component of the just-released Microsoft Office 2011.

I naively removed the hard drive from the PC, thinking that the .pst files from the Outlook application could be imported directly into Mac Outlook. Unfortunately, I found that while our customer was using Outlook, more specifically, it was Outlook Express. Would the new Outlook show me any love? Attempts to import the Outlook Express database were summarily rejected.

Could I attempt to upgrade the older Windows XP unit to Outlook? Unfortunately that was made impossible by a failing optical drive in the unit. What next?

I heard that Thunderbird, the Mozilla mail client (close cousin to Firefox), could be used as a conduit but had never accomplished that before. Time to experiment. I installed Thunderbird on the Dell and imported the mailboxes. I verified that the data was present and a selection of the emails were accessible. Time to pull the drive and hook it back to the Mac.

I pulled the hard drive from the Dell, installed it into a drive sled, and hooked it to the Mac. Try and try as I might, I could not find the Thunderbird Database in the Finder; searches for the database were continually rebuffed, fruitless. I again installed the drive into the Dell and opened Thunderbird; the files were still all there, so why could I not find them? I right clicked on the ‘import folder in Thunderbird and selected ‘Properties.’ The hard path to the mail box looked something like this:

C://Documents and Setting/{UserName} /Application Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/{UniqueProfileID}.default/mail/Local folder/Outlook Express/…

Knowing the path, I again removed the HD and plugged it into the Mac. When I opened up the hard drive in a Finder window, I could find Documents and Setting and the Users folder but no Application Data. Is it a hidden file?

I then opened the Terminal application on the Mac and typed the pathway in to verify that it existed. As I typed a few letters of each level of the directory and pressed the tab, I received confirmation that the file path existed. I guess I may be able to use the Terminal command cp and duplicate the necessary files to the desktop? For fear of not knowing exactly how to ensure all files copy properly with cp I instead choose to alter the Finder so that it displayed the hidden files. Would that reveal hidden files on the Windows file system? My fingers were crossed. The command in Terminal to accomplish the feat is:

defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

After logging out and back in, I was greeted with a .DS_store and other hidden files on the desktop of the Mac. Opening the Windows drive, previously unseen files and directories were revealed, including the pathway to the Mozilla Thunderbird database. Having already installed Thunderbird on the Mac, I dragged the local folder from the above listed pathway and replaced the the local folder on the Mac at the location:

Macintosh/HD/Users/(username)/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/{uniqueID}.default/Mail

I restarted the Mac and opened Thunderbird and the Outlook Express mail box showed up Imported Mail in Thunderbird on the Mac. To confirm that it functioned properly, I proceeded to open a selection of messages from the various imported folders.

Next step was to get these messages into Outlook for the Mac. I opened Outlook and selected Import from the Tools. The applications that Outlook supports import from does not include Thunderbird. It was necessary to import Thunderbird Mail into the Apple Mail client first before finally importing into Outlook.

Finally, we have to alter the Finder so the hidden files are hidden once again. That Terminal command is:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

A day after dropoff, the customer’s new Mac had all of the files and folders perfectly integrated into the iApps, and all the mail and contacts were successfully in Outlook.

 
   
     
  Repair of the Week: MacBook Sleep LED  
   
 

A first-generation MacBook came in the other day because the sleep indicator light wasn’t working. This is actually a tricky one to diagnose because so many components are involved in making that little light work. The light itself is powered by the SATA cable, which also powers both the hard drive and shuttles data to and from the hard drive. The SATA cable ends with a socket that the hard drive plugs into, and that socket has a tiny connector for the flex cable that powers the sleep light.

Of course, the sleep light isn’t available as an individual part. That’d be too easy. Instead, it is part of the bottom case, and swapping the bottom case requires complete disassembly of the MacBook.

On a hunch, I swapped out the SATA cable, and plugged in the sleep light. No go. I then swapped in a known-good logic board, which also didn’t help. Thinking the LED itself was most likely not the cause, I grudgingly ordered and installed a bottom case. That didn’t work, either.

By then, it was 6:30 at night and I was ready to go home and make some dinner. As is often the case, I think about work at home and realized that I skipped the all-important test: I never booted the machine off a known-good Mac OS X installation, such as the computer’s restore disk. No, that didn’t work, either.

I took the machine apart again and double-checked my work. I re-seated the connection from LED to SATA socket, put the machine to sleep, and let out a sigh of relief that the light was working again. Since I’d replaced so many parts in diagnosis, it’s hard to know which component was actually to blame. I’m willing to bet it was the connection all along.

 
   
     
  Hulu vs. Parent  
   
 

A kernel panic is what Mac OS X does when it encounters an error from which it cannot safely recover. The kernel, which is the essentially the core part of the operating system, shuts itself down to prevent data loss and/or corruption. The outward result is the a screen you may have seen that tells you that you in several languages that you must restart your computer; there is often some user panic as well since most of us have never even heard of or seen a kernel panic.

Wee see them somewhat regularly in the repair department, and the causes and solutions are usually straightforward. When a MacBook Pro was checked in the other day with reports of kernel panics, I figured it would be a pretty simple diagnosis and resolution.

The first step in troubleshooting is to confirm the reported symptom. The owners said that the computer would kernel panic while viewing webpages with Flash content, so I figured up a few videos on Hulu. Sure enough, the problem was confirmed after a few minutes. I was able to recreate this a number of times, but only while viewing content on Hulu; a quick call to the customer confirmed that the issue only arose while streaming video on this site. There were no problems reported while viewing other Flash-heavy sites like YouTube.

I felt confident at this point that I was dealing with a software issue. A hardware issue would likely have had a broader impact on the system that causing a kernel panic while on one specific website. As a quick check to see if the issue was systemic or user-specific, I logged into another user on the system and fired up Hulu. I could stream any amount of content without issue so the problem was likely to be found in the affected user’s account.

Earlier, I mentioned that the causes of kernel panics are pretty straightforward, and in most cases that’s true. But, sometimes, the cause is buried in the software. This can lead to a lot of time spent checking extensions and preferences and updates. At the extreme, it could involve not only reinstalling the operating system but also rebuilding the user’s account one step at a time to find the offending files.

I got off easy and in the process, came across something I hadn’t seen before. The account in question had parental controls enabled. Parental controls let an administrator restrict many aspects of a standard user’s account (such as which applications they can use, which web sites they can visit, and who they can chat with in iChat).

It turns out that there were a bunch of web sites in both the “always restrict” and the “always allow” columns. Right away I saw that Hulu.com was listed in both categories. The kernel panics were resulting from the conflict of hulu being listed on the whitelist and the blacklist. I know the operating system should be able to handle a basic conflict like this. If it were that easy to crash and operating system, we’d be restarting our computers all day long. So, I suspected a corrupted property list (.plist, or preference) file which would be cured by deleting the old and allowing the operating system to re-generate a clean one.

First I tried just cleaning the list in the Parental Controls preference pane to see if that would resolve the issue. Sure enough, the problem disappeared. When I added Hulu.com back to both lists, the problem recurred.

So, for parents noticing odd behaviors on the computers, it is well worth your time to check your parental controls settings every now and again!

 
   
     
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