Thursday, November 20, 2008

Been a while...

Haven't posted in a while. Things have been a little nuts lately, but I've been learning a lot about javascript, old Apple hardware, and homebrewing.

My latest homebrew is just about ready for drinking. If it's decent, I'll put up my recipe for dark cherry ale.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sims... horrible deformed Sims

While I was in on my Skitch page, I found a picture of some Sims I created a while back.

The Sims 2 Pets
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Baby is just creepy. Mom looks like Scott Bakula in drag. *Shudder*

Exchange OWA premium on a Mac

Since we're implementing Exchange at work, I've been trying to figure out a way to get Outlook Web Access (OWA) to function in full mode on a Mac. Unfortunately, if you are using anything but IE 6 or higher on Windows 2000 or higher, you're only given the option to run OWA in "light" mode, which has several limitations. I won't go into to much detail on that here, but this page has all the info you could ever want:

The big ones (for me anyway) are day only view in the calendar, and no access to message rules. Obviously, I could run IE in VMware Fusion, but firing up an entire virtual machine just to get OWA premium doesn't make much sense to me, so I started by seeing if I could trick OWA into thinking I was on IE. My first idea was simply to switch the user agent for Firefox or Safari. Setting the user agent to IE6 or IE7 in Safari wouldn't trick OWA, but on Firefox I was given the option to log in to OWA premium. Unfortunately, what I got was a jumbled mess.

Firefox - IE 7 User Agent

So that's no good. Next up was a project I had heard about a while ago called ies4osx, which uses Darwine to run the Windows native version of IE. A couple quick downloads later, I ran the ies4osx installer, and had a working copy of IE6 fired up. Unfortunately, since Darwine emulates Windows 98 -- OK, not emulates, since everyone knows that WINE stands for WINE Is Not an Emulator -- OWA still only gave me the light option. So I did some quick Google searches for changing IE's user agent and found this page. Where that guy girl is using Linux, I had to modify her instructions somewhat. While I had IE fired up, I used it to navigate to C:\Windows\ and opened up regedit.exe. Once the Registry Editor launched, I closed out of IE and followed her instructions.
  • In the registry editor window navigate to:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\User Agent\
  • Select the "Edit" menu -> New -> Key. For the key name enter: Post Platform
  • With "Post Platform" selected: Edit menu -> New -> String Value. For the name enter: Windows NT 5.1
  • Click "OK", then double-click the new item named "Windows NT 5.1" and set the value: This String Doesn’t Matter I think
  • Select "User Agent" key again
  • Select the "Edit" menu -> New -> Key. For the key name enter: Pre Platform
  • With "Pre Platform" selected: Edit menu -> New -> String Value. For the name enter: Windows NT 5.1
  • Click "OK", then double-click the new item named "Windows NT 5.1" and set the value: This String Doesn’t Matter I think
  • Close regedit
  • Run IE and test logging into OWA. On the login page it should now allow you to select either premium mode or lite mode.
Bam! It worked. As you can see below, OWA gave me the option to log in to Premium mode.

Microsoft Exchange - Outlook Web Access - Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0

Once in I had full access to OWA premium as if I was a windows user.

IE6 through Darwine

However, if you look at Activity Monitor in that screenshot, you'll see that wineserver and mwine are going completely out of control, together taking up 100% of both CPUs. Not really acceptable performance. So on to something else.

The next idea was to do the same thing in Crossover, another implementation of Wine for OS X. Crossover is a bit more polished/tweaked than Darwine, and can actually run Office 2007 very well. I'm still debating if it was worth the purchase, but since I own it, might as well try. Crossover has IE6 listed as an installable program; you pretty much select that you want to install Internet Explorer and let it do the rest of the work. A few minutes later, I had an IE6 install ready to go. Unfortunately, it had the same problem as Darwine -- reporting that it was running on Windows 98, so I followed the same procedure to edit the registry to change the user agent. Again, I was able to log in to OWA Premium.

OWA through Crossover

So you can see the performance is much, much better, but there are some strange rendering issues. Calendar items are blacked out - that was how it showed up, wasn't done by me. Also new mail counts render weird, and the quicklinks on the bottom left don't show. The calendar rendering is the big killer on this one, and really, it's too bad since otherwise, it performs really well. I'll probably do a little more work on troubleshooting this at some point.

So there you have it. ies4osx/Darwine and Crossover both will let you get in to OWA premium with a bit of tweaking. ies4osx has huge performance issues, but other than that renders everything well. Crossover renders some things poorly, but has excellent performance. Neither seem like a particularly great option, but if you don't care too much about calendar but do want OWA Premium (and have the $40 to spend), Crossover is probably your best option.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Xbox Live Support, Part II

I actually called them up about my response. I told the guy that I was calling with support feedback only, and that my problem was the same problem everyone else has been seeing. He told me to try in an hour and to visit for details of compensation in the form of a free arcade game. Goodie. I hope it's Yaris. Sigh.

Xbox Live Support

If you have XBox live, you probably already know that there have been some issues for about the last two weeks. Of course it would happen on my week off. I got so frustrated, I wrote a quick complaint to their customer service a couple of days ago. I wasn't sure of what I would get for a response, but I sure didn't expect this.

My complaint:

Xbox Live over the last week or so has been terrible. I can understand an outage once in a while, but for a paid service, this is unacceptable. I realize you are all working hard to get this issue resolved, but I would appreciate some sort of compensation for this extended outage.

Their response:

Hello Adam,

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

I’m really sorry that you’re having a problem with your Xbox console. I understand that when you reached the end of the sign up process for Xbox Live, you receive the following error message: “Xbox Live sign up is currently unavailable. Please try again later.” You receive this error message if one of the following conditions is true:

• You are trying to migrate a two-month trial account from an original Xbox console and the account is not yet a paid account.
• The account that you are trying to migrate from an original Xbox console to an Xbox 360 console has been canceled.
• The account that you are trying to migrate from an original Xbox console to an Xbox 360 console is not in good standing. For example, the credit card that you used for the account has expired.
• The account from the original Xbox console requires action. For example, your gamer tag is currently banned or you have not yet complied with an outstanding forced gamer tag.

Things to try:

1. Try the solution that best relates to the issue that you are experiencing. Select one of the following solutions:

a. If you are using a two-month trial account on the original Xbox console, wait until the trial period is over and the account is a paid subscription before you migrate the account.

b. If your account has been canceled on the original Xbox console, create a new account on the Xbox 360 console.

c. If your account on the original Xbox console is not in good standing, you may not be able to play a game on an original Xbox console. Try to use your account on the original Xbox console. If you cannot play a game or if you cannot access account management, you may have to update your credit card information in the Xbox Dashboard.

d. If you have unread system messages because of a banned gamer tag or because of a forced gamer tag change, make sure that you read these messages, and then wait until the gamer tag is changed or until the ban period is over before you migrate your account to Xbox 360.

If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply 'with history' (include any previous e-mail) so we can expedite our service to you. You may also call Xbox Phone Support at 1-800-4MYXBOX (1-800-469-9269) at your earliest convenience, and we’ll be happy to help you. We are open everyday from 8am to 12mn US Central Time.

To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number XXXXXXXXXX when you call.

Thank you for visiting If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.


Xbox Customer Care

I know an automated response when I see one, but at least they could have auto-replied back on the right issue. Glad to see the support is as good as the service lately.