Fix PST File Exports Hangs under Outlook 2010 on Windows 10

I oftentimes find myself lumbered with legacy software, for a myriad of reasons varying from backwards software compatibility to a personal dislike of new software versions, etc.

One such piece of legacy software — and perhaps the most egregious example thereof — is Microsoft Outlook 2010, which I still currently run under the Windows 10 operating system to connect to an Microsoft Exchange account.

One unfortunately inconvenience of being married to legacy software is that we become “zeta-testers”; the opposite of “alpha-testers”. Our antiquated software ceases to function as the environment around it changes.

The Problem….

Under Windows 10, Microsoft Outlook 2010 (with all current patches applied) will no longer perform a reliable “hands-free” export to a .PST file (at least in my case, which means a 12GB PST file). This makes it difficult to “migrate” from one exchange account/server to another or to “back up” the exchange account to a .pst file, from which the account can later be restored.

Outlook 2010 tends to “crash” or “hang” when an export is performed.

The Solution…

Well, let’s call this “my solution”. It’s probably not going to work for everybody, but here is what has worked for me in circumventing the hangs/crashes on multiple machines:

  1. Close all applications (including Outlook) such that no apps in the taskbar appear with a blue line underneath.
  2. Disable all anti-virus software; I run Kaspersky and disabled it.
  3. Open an Explorer window and navigate to the folder to which you’ll later be saving the .PST backup / exported file. Then, select the “Details” view, so you can see file sizes.
  4. Open Outlook 2010:
    1. Click “File”
    2. Select the Exchange account that you wish to export under “Account Information”.
    3. Click Options > Advanced
    4. Under “Export”, click “Export”.
    5. Select “Export to file a file”, then “Outlook Data File (.pst)”.
    6. Choose the email folder(s) you wish to export (I chose the main account folder and included all sub folders).
    7. Select the destination folder for the .pst file (same location to which you navigated in the Explorer window earlier.)
    8. Click “Finish”

And, now for the REALLY Important part…

While Outlook is performing the export, you MUST CONTINUE MOVING THE MOUSE. The green status bar should continue going from left to right; The estimated time remaining will be incorrect (as always), but so long as it keeps recycling from left to right, you’re good!

If the Outlook window becomes washed-out — or if you get the “Not Responding” window — then I suggest you force close Outlook and try again (in my experience the grayed out window means that it has died entirely.)

Periodically (every 1-2 mins), click on the  Explorer window (opening it by moving the mouse over the Explorer icon in the taskbar and clicking on it)… Quickly look at the file size of the .pst you’re exporting, which should continue to increase every time you check, indicating that the export process continues.

After checking the that the file size continues to grow, switch directly back to Outlook and continue moving the mouse.

One hell of a strange bug, but this solution works. Reminds me of software that use the mouse movements as random entropy input for encryption purposes.

 

 

Learning to Say “No”

As one grows as a person, certain lessons are learned along the way, be they related to business, personal life or other. And, It’s very easy to learn a lesson, then promptly forget it. Which is great, if your mission in life is to run around in circles.

In my experience, an effective way to incorporate lessons-learned into one’s life is to write a write a note or article pertaining to the lesson.

Then, as one encounter’s a need to revisit the topic, they can refer back to what they have written to refresh their memory of the takeaways from the lesson.

Here is one such note I wrote back in May 2016 and originally published on SeoChat.com (normally I might edit my notes to incorporate changes, but here I will leave it untouched.):

Learning To Say “No”
May 29th 2016:

Sometimes we are so afraid of missing out on opportunities that we say yes to everything that comes along, without really considering the dynamics of the situation or its implications.

You’re talking with a colleague; He proposes some type of business deal and without really thinking about it you say YES because you’re afraid of rejecting them by saying NO. (And of course you want the business). You’re a smart person – there’s nothing you can’t do and you know that you’ll get the job done, no matter what.

Several months later you realize that the whole situation is ridiculous… You think back and realize that the goals were never realistic, you didn’t scope the project or charge enough to do the work correctly, and the project didn’t even align with your overarching personal and/or business objectives.

It’s all crumbling down now, and both parties know that it’s time to call it quits. You both feel terrible because there is disappointment in your performance and a sense of waste, both in terms of time and money.

This has been me several times in my career. It’s important to realize that, sometimes, “NO” is the correct answer. In fact, “NO” should always be your first answer (I read a book many years ago called “Start with No” by Jim Camp).

Only after really thinking the project through and having 100% confidence, based on research and correctly scoping the project, should you say YES. You must be sure that the project is homogeneous with your long term objectives (in business and life).

Just a tidbit of random experiential advice on this boring Sunday afternoon.

Happy Memorial Day!

Incontrovertible Evidence that Facebook Never Actually Deletes Your Photos

This might not be a surprise to you, but Facebook NEVER deletes the photos you delete.

Today I will present you with incontrovertible evidence of this claim.

First, take a look at the photo below. Here are the 3 important things you need to know about it:

  • I took this photo in Atlanta on December 14, 2015.
  • I uploaded the Facebook shortly after I took it.
  • I then deleted the photo after a short period after (days or weeks after uploading, not months)
Original Image, which was uploaded to Facebook and then deleted in 2015

Moreover, about a month ago (before the Facebook data scandal) I deleted everything on Facebook (photos, friends, posts, etc). I didn’t outright delete the account because I want to keep it as a placeholder for my username URL.

So… this photo should be completely gone from my Facebook, right?

But, it’s not. Facebook are still using this photo in 2 different places, and I cannot delete them in any way (you can easily identify the photo because of the kids standing next to the water streams and the flags):

I know that these photos are somewhat blurred and obscured, but I’ve been seeing this photo for about 2 years after deleting it and it bothers me that there is no way for me to delete them. To me, this serves as 100% factual evidence that Facebook are retaining some of your photos even after you delete them.

This is not breaking news, I’m sure, but to see it right in front of your eyes is not only bothersome, but very brazen on Facebook’s part.

 

Social Media: I Can Literally Feel The Impacts On My Brain!

To say that social media is a “hot topic” would be the epic understatement of the century. Today, social media is ubiquitous and omni-present on virtually every device that’s connected to the Internet, and it has become a cornerstone of our everyday relationships, thought processes and decision making.

Despite the fact that I was born in ’82 – the very fringe of the “Millennial” group definition – I personally do not associate with the prototypical millennial. In contrast, I tend to be an intensely private individual. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I derive very little satisfaction from participation in social media.

But my personal feelings are irrelevant when it comes to business; My fiduciary responsibilities as an Internet business owner necessitate that I maintain a rather deep understanding of social media and the trends in this space.

I believe that the best way to learn about something is to roll up your sleeves and jump right in. So, with that in mind, I recently forced myself to participate in social media beyond my natural comfort levels. I posted many photos of my recent travels and experimented with several different things to see how people were responding… What people did and did not “Like”.

What I wasn’t really prepared for were the kind of strange emotions, feelings and in some cases physical pain during and after my use of social media.

It’s incredibly difficult to explain the feelings, however drawing on personal life experiences, they felt tantamount to stress, depression and withdrawal symptoms. I also noticed that my mood was very volatile (even more-so than normal); with susceptibility to erratic swings in emotions, from great satisfaction to disappointment, sadness and a diminished sense of self-worth if something I posted wasn’t received enthusiastically.

I’ve even gotten sweats (getting hot and bothered by it, often accompanied a feeling of pressure pains in my head – that’s the physical pain component.)

Much has been said in recent month of the potential ill-consequences of social media use, or at least excessive use thereof, i.e. how it’s causing neurological pathway rewiring, or how certain actions – such as getting “likes” – trigger reward mechanisms in the brain; thus creating addiction.

I won’t pontificate to others about social media because everybody is different and entitled to live their lives as they so choose. However, social media its current form – and in particular Facebook and Instagram – are what I consider to be Psychological Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Perhaps the youth of today will thrive on Social Media with no long-term consequences. But I doubt it. I am no expert in his space, but my personal prognostication is that we will continue to see a decline in mental health among younger individuals, with a rise in the prevalence rates of conditions such as schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Bi-polar, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), etc. (I also suspect that STD infection rates will rise, but the topic of heightened promiscuity vis-à-vis social media is one for another day.)

For me personally, social media is a plight that only makes me feel worse about myself… I will not embrace such a thing into my personal life.

Oh by the way – add me on Facebook. LOL. JK.

About Search Engine Optimization (SEO) These Days

Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine RoundTable is running an interesting poll with the question of “SEO As A Career In The Future?“.

The poll was prompted by a discussion thread at WebmasterWorld entitled “Beyond Google SEO – is it time for a Career Change?“.

For the uninitiated: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a Website so that it ranks high in search engines — such as Google — for crucial keywords related to said Website. For example, if your Website happens to sell blue shoes, then you want to be one of the top ranking results in Google for “blue shoes”, “blue sneakers”, “blue dress shoes”, etc.

Also for the uninitiated (or the more recently initiated): I happened to be something of an early pioneer in the SEO industry. My initial claim to fame was something called the “Google Dance Tool” circa 2002 and, soon thereafter, a community forum I started known as SEOChat, which to this day continues to be a vibrant community of search marketing professionals. As a consequence thereof, I was something of a “public figure” in the early SEO industry, speaking at conferences, engaging in public forums, working with large corporations, etc.

Barry’s poll evokes some emotion for me since, given the results as they currently stand, there are many people in the SEO community that feel as though their livelihoods are in jeopardy (see below). Moreover, in reading some of the comments it’s clear that many find SEO to be overly difficult these days, with the fruits of labor uncertain and too slow to come.

That it is more difficult to generate revenue also appears to be a theme, with one commenter stating that “My hourly rate (from the website) is 1/3rd of what my 12-year-old son earns on his paper round.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

In casting my mind back to the “golden era” of SEO — which I consider to be about 2000 – 2005 or so — it was incredibly easy to rank Websites high in Google for competitive keywords. And it was also significantly easier to find clients willing to pay $15,000-$20,000 per month or more for that service; Have a few of those clients on your roster and BOOM – you have it made!

However, the (un)fortunate reality is that times change.

The current landscape is such that it is generally far more difficult to find rank for keywords and to find larger clients.

SEO has evolved beyond merely organic search into a broad spectrum Internet marketing service with things like social media, PPC, email marketing, user experience, app development,  etc. all playing a role.

And search engines too have evolved far beyond the simple “ten blue links” that can be easily gamed by tweaking links and content.

Companies also have evolved, becoming far smarter about tracking their bottom lines and their Return-On-Investment (ROI), which has forced marketers to more accurately quantify success and justify their service costs on an ongoing basis.

As the SEO industry became popular more SEO “professionals” were drawn into the industry and competition, thus, became fierce. We all know of the $99/month “complete SEO packages” offered by companies that can leverage cheap labor or automated processes.

Sure, expectations from such a cheap service should be practically zero, yet a business manager researching SEO might see that low price tag and they don’t know the difference between high-quality and low-price; They’re only concerned with minimizing expenses. (As an aside, I should mention that cheaper services can often be detrimental, as they sometimes use “black hat” tactics that can get a site permanently penalized.)

Yet, I can’t help but think that to some degree the SEO community has itself to blame for it being more difficult to acquire good clients these days. I’m specifically thinking of: 1) The lack of general hierarchy, certifications, etc. in the industry, and 2) The fact that not much is/was done to prevent people from getting burned by the fake SEO snake-oil salespeople, who sell SEO as a service without having a clue as to what they are doing.

Having seen the industry develop over nearly 20 years, I do feel as though I can offer some interesting insights and perspectives on how the dynamics of the SEO industry have changed over time, for both the better and worse. Alas, if I open that Pandora’s box I will be here typing forever, so I shall leave those for another time.

Weird Apple iOS Bug – Strange Character Autocomplete for letter “I” (uppercase i)

Update: It appears that this is a known issue and is addressed by an update of iOS to version 11.1.1. Though, I do wonder about Apple’s pre-release testing processes.


For whatever reason, whenever I try to type uppercase I (as in “I am going crazy with this”), iOS on my iPhone 7 Plus wants to auto-correct that letter to some very strange character (presumably a malformed unicode character or something similar):

For example, if I go to write an new email and type “i”, I get this bizarre autocomplete suggestion:

If I press space to continue typing (without dismissing the autocomplete), then I see this monstrosity:

I have already gone into Settings > General > Reset and done the “Reset Keyboard Dictionary“, which has not resolved the issue.

iPhone Details:
Model: MNQH2LL
iOS Version: 11.1 (15B93)

Something tells me that it may be related to WhatsApp, since I first noticed the issue there, however I cannot be sure. Regardless, the issue now persists system-wide.

CloudFlare not minifying code for Googlebot / Crawlers

Update (12/27/2017): I got an email from Scott at CloudFlare today letting me know that a fix had been deployed. After checking, it does now seem that CloudFlare is correctly minifying pages for Googlebot and W3C.


In doing some Website debugging recently, I noticed that CloudFlare is not “minifying” HTML code for some clients. Unfortunately, one such client is the Googlebot crawler/robot.

This is problematic because I had been using the Cloudflare auto-minification feature under the premise that it would aid with loading speed optimization, which has been a component of Google’s ranking algorithm since at least 2010.

However, as you can see here, Google’s crawlers are receiving the un-minified version of the HTML code (notice the highlighted HTML comments and the leading whitespaces):

HTML Code as Fetched by Google

Whereas my Web browser (Chrome) is receiving minified HTML code:

HTML Code in Web Browser

I did submit a support ticket to CloudFlare seeking clarification. Their response was:

“Our minification service is particularly conservative, and will break at the first perceived error. “

Understandable. They recommended that I use the W3C validator to validate HTML code (which, of course, I had already done and verified the code was 100% compliant). Oh, and by the way, the W3C validator also receives the unminified HTML code with comments and white-spacing.

But even if there were HTML errors, the real conundrum here is why two different clients are receiving different code; A regular browser such as Chrome does receive minified/optimized code, yet Googlebot and the W3C validator does not.

Another observation I have made is that “spoofing” the user-agent to Googlebot from my computer does not return un-minified code. Hence, the determining factor is not solely the client’s user-agent; It is more likely based on IP or reverse DNS lookup.

For now, I am operating on the assumption that CloudFlare intentionally bypass minification for certain high-traffic clients, such as Web crawlers. This makes sense from a resource utilization standpoint because minification does consume additional CPU compute cycles upon each request. Googlebot alone probably makes tens of millions of requests to the CloudFlare servers every day. Simply disabling that feature for Googlebot would advantageous.

Unfortunately, that which is advantageous for CloudFlare is disadvantageous for me in terms of Google rankings. So, it may now be time to install mod_pagespeed and/or research other options (which will probably mean moving away from CloudFlare).

Sad Face.

Welcome

I set up this Website / blog because I have noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of my writing in recent years.  I attribute much of the deterioration to modern forms of communication, e.g. text messages, one-liner emails and Twitter with their 140 character limitation (though, it’s soon going to be a whopping 280 characters!).

My assumption is that if I have a venue such as this, where I can write long-form and deep-dive into topics, that I will rekindle some of my writing skills.

So with that in mind… Watch this space for some of my thoughts and musings. I’ll try keep it the topics interesting, but expect most to fall within the realm of tech, Web stuff, stock markets, etc.