I haven't done one of these in awhile, and it's a quiet week, so ...
If you've got a question for me, go on and ask it. If I've got an answer, I'll share it. If I don't have an answer (either I don't know or can't say), then I'll tell you that too. Questions about MacBU, our applications, Mac development at Microsoft, what it's like to work here, my job, and anything like that are fair game. Short answers will probably go in the comments, long answers are most likely to show up as a new post.
From my open question thread:
When opening my inbox from an Exchange 2007 SP1 server with Entourage 12.2.3 I get a dialog saying "Unable to establish a secure connection to example.com because the correct root certificate is not installed."
There's a few things that you can do to get rid of this dialog.
One option is to ask your admin for a root certificate. After you receive that certificate from your admin, you can install it. If that solves the problem some but not all of the time, open the Microsoft Certificate Manager application (it's in the Office folder) and import the certificate there.
Another option is to uncheck the "This DAV service requires a secure connection (SSL)" box. It's on the Advanced tab in your Account Settings for that Exchange account.
If you're feeling particularly techy, you can check to see if your Exchange server's autodiscover service is set up properly. Amir wrote up some instructions in his blog post SSL warning issue in Entourage 2008. Look down to the note for the instructions that you as a user (and not an Exchange admin) can take to see if it's set up properly. If your autodiscover service isn't set up properly, you can at least inform your Exchange admin about it and ask them to fix it. There's a whitepaper for setting up the Exchange 2007 autodiscover service which has plenty of details for how your Exchange guys can get it set up properly.
For additional troubleshooting without calling Microsoft tech support (for which you get two free calls with your purchase of Office 2008) or any internal tech support that you might have, you might want to try the Entourage public forum.
Update Tuesday is here, and we've got lots of updates!
Office:Mac 2008 12.2.3 brings stability and security improvements across the suite. Excel gets some more improvements to pivot tables. Entourage has an updated junk mail filter. Document Connection has a bunch of updates, including a bunch of UI improvements and updates some keyboard shortcuts. Complete information about the update is available in the Office 2008 12.2.3 knowledge base article.
Entourage for Web Services 13.0.3 has stability and security improvements, as well as that spiffy new junk mail filter. If you're already using Entourage for Web Services, you should apply the Office 2008 12.2.3 update: it will also update EWS. If you're not already using Entourage for Web Services, then you'll just download the whole package of 13.0.3, and you'll be all set.
Office:Mac 2004 11.5.6 has security improvements across the suite. Complete information about the update is available in the Office 2004 11.5.6 knowledge base article.
Along with all of these updates, the Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.1.3 supports the latest changes to the file format. More information about the update is available in its knowledge base article.
You can download the updates by going to the Help menu in any Office application and selecting "Check for Updates" (or by letting it check automatically, which is its default behaviour). If you prefer, you can manually download the updates from Mactopia.
Updated at 12:09pm on 11 November 2009 to correct the instructions for updating Entourage for Web Services.
It's a big day for my colleagues on the Office for Windows team: at PDC 2009, we announced that Office 2010 is now in public beta.
For your reading pleasure, here's some links with additional details:
Before anyone asks ... the as-yet-unnamed next version of Office:Mac will hit store shelves in time for your holiday buying pleasure next year. I don't yet have beta plans to share, nor can I share specific features or screenshots yet. The second that I get the go-ahead to talk more about it, I'll do so.
In response to my open question thread, I got this question:
do they force you to use PCs ? if yes what kind of machine do you have ? and what kind of Macs also ?
and if not, what about MS employees outside the MacBU ? can they choose to use a Mac (with Entourage of course :-) ) ?
I do have a Windows box, although there was no force or coercion involved. :) As it turns out, Microsoft is a pretty Windows-centric company, so there are plenty of tools that I need to use that are only available on Windows. As a UX researcher, many of those tools (such as our bug tracking system and our code repository) aren't ones that I use frequently -- it's a strange week if I've accessed my Windows box more than once. The two Windows-only tools that I use the most frequently are for booking travel and submitting my expenses. Since my Windows needs are low, I don't use VMWare or Boot Camp to have Windows on my Mac. My Windows box lives headless under my desk. I exclusively access it via Remote Desktop Connection.
I primarily use two Macs. I travel a lot, and even when I'm in California I'm not in my office that much, so my main Mac is a MacBook Pro. In my office, I've also got a Mac Mini. The Mini gets most of its use when we're getting early seeds of the next version of OS X, so that I can get a feeling for the UX changes and start to determine how that impacts my work. It also runs iTunes all the time, and I have sharing enabled so that others can listen to my music.
Other people in MacBU have a different matrix of computers. For example, many of our developers aren't quite as mobile as I am, so they often choose to get a spiffy Mac Pro as their primary workstation. I touched on this in another blog post from a couple of months ago: Q&A: what hardware do you use when testing Office:Mac?
As for the rest of Microsoft, it's a big company with lots of people and lots of different needs, so there's no blanket policy. It's up to the particular group that someone is in as to what is available to them. I know folks in other groups who use Macs, sometimes as their primary workstation, other times not. It's more about their needs than anything else: what computer, and what operating system, best meets their business needs so that they can do their job more effectively. There are folks for whom running OS X all the time wouldn't make a lot of sense. For example, if you're a developer on Access, your life is lived in Visual Studio and in our tracking system, and using OS X would just get in the way because your tools are Windows tools. There are other folks who use Macs because it does make sense for them. For example, there are some more Macs around the Exchange hallways because both Safari and Firefox get the full experience in Outlook Web Access in Exchange 2010, and it makes plenty of sense for the developers and testers involved in that work to use a Mac.
I know it always makes the blogs when someone sees a Microsoft employee running Windows on a Mac, or running a Mac at all, which I always find amusing. Microsoft's a big company, with lots of groups that have different needs and different goals. Assuming that Macs are verboten across the company because we make Windows ignores the reality of being a big company in lots of different markets.
I've been using my new MacBook for awhile now, and there's one thing that completely annoys me: the trackpad. I've spent quite a lot of time messing about with the preferences, and I still find myself having difficulty using it. The problem is in fine movement. If I care about just nudging the cursor a little bit, I'm having a hard time getting it where I want it to go. This is especially true if I want to nudge it and then click, because the action of clicking (since there's no separate button to click on) often causes the cursor to move a little bit more.
Another problem lies in clicking: since I rarely look at the trackpad when mousing around or clicking, I haven't been clicking down far enough at the bottom of the trackpad for it to register as a click. I still hear the click, but the click doesn't register on-screen.
Hopefully I'll get used to it over time, and hopefully getting used to it on this MacBook won't mean that I won't be able to use the trackpad on my old MacBook Pro (which still has a button on the trackpad). We'll see.
Via the open question thread:
I'm about to buy a Macbook as my main computer. But I also use Access a lot, especially the mail-merge function (Word/Access). I've read your comments in MacRumors about the likelihood of Microsoft creating Access for Macintosh. What do you recommend instead?
It depends on what you're doing with Access. If mail merge is your most important task, then you can likely accomplish the same thing with Word and Excel. Excel 2008 can handle workbooks of up to 1 million rows and 16,000 columns (it's slightly bigger than 16k, but I can't remember the exact number since it's not a power of two). You could also move your address data into Entourage, and do a mail merge from there. For more information about how to do a mail merge in Word:Mac 2008, start with our help topic create a data source for a mail merge, which has links to creating form letters, mailing labels, and envelopes via mail merge.
For other database needs, depending on how big your databases are and what you're doing with them, you might find that either Bento or FileMaker will meet your needs. Bento is more for consumer needs, whereas FileMaker is good for business needs.
Alternately, you could use Boot Camp to dual-boot your Mac into Windows, or run a virtualisation application like VMWare so that you have access to Windows. Then you can run Access on your Mac for the times when you need it. This makes the most sense if you have a lot of big databases and you use Access frequently.
This morning, Paul Kent tweeted that there's only 100 days remaining to Macworld 2010.
I suppose that this is a reminder that I need to get working on my presentation. John Welch somehow talked me into giving a presentation about administering Macs in Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007. I somehow talked Bill Smith, one of our Entourage MVPs, into helping me out. I've got a vague outline in my head for what to talk about, but I should start committing that to paper (well, email) and working on it.
Tell me, dear reader: if you saw a session titled "Administering Macs in Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007", what would you expect to hear? This is a great time to ensure that I'm talking about what you need to hear about.
As I mentioned earlier, I bought a new MacBook. My old MacBook was the first-gen black one, and it was getting quite long in the tooth. Spurred on by a good deal at MicroCenter (thanks again to Peter Cohen for alerting to me it!), I got one of the new unibody MacBooks.
Since it's just an off-the-shelf MacBook, there's a couple of immediate upgrades to be done to it. It comes with 2-GB of RAM, which I'm upgrading to 4-GB. This time around, NewEgg seems to have the best price on RAM. I'm also going for a larger hard drive than the 250-GB one included, moving up to a 500-GB 7200rpm drive. It's not quite as fast as a SSD, but SSDs are still a bit more than I want to pay to go into a MacBook.
After installing the hard drive and RAM (the guide at iFixit is quite useful), then it's time to partition the hard drive and reinstall the OS. I always reinstall the OS on a new Mac so that I only get the stuff I need. Why install gigs of printer drivers when I don't even own a printer?
I usually have one system partition and one data partition. I move my user folder to the data partition, and I keep as much stuff on that partition instead of the system partition as I can. That way, should something go belly-up on my system partition, I can (hopefully) still recover my data partition and not lose as much.
After the OS is reinstalled, then it's time to install the apps that I use the most:
Now you know what I'm doing with my weekend! I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the apps that I'll install over the weekend, this is just off the top of my head.
Someone recently asked me how I've got my home media centre set up. I wrote this up in response to them, but then figured that it could be shared more broadly.
I have a Mac Mini (the previous generation) running Snow Leopard (plain Snow Leopard, not Snow Leopard Server). It's hooked up via a DVI-to-HDMI cable to the television (since many TVs won't do 1080p over their VGA ports), and via its audio output to the stereo.
I have a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer, which is roughly the same as the ReadyNAS Pro (except it shipped without disks and is missing a handful of enterprise features). It's hooked up via gigabit Ethernet to the home network. It runs Firefly, which allows iTunes and SlimServer streaming directly from the NAS. The Mini has the NAS share mounted via NFS, and the iTunes library lives on the NFS share. The ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer can survive a double-disk failure if you set it up that way before you start populating it with data. I've only got it set up to survive a single drive failure. The NAS also acts as a print server.
The Mini shares media to the Xbox 360 using Connect360. Time Machine is enabled on one of the household Macs, which uses the NAS. The NAS and Mini each have their own UPS.
The Mini runs a web server and mail server, and allows external access via SSH and SFTP. I've also got CVS and SVN servers set up, which allows collaboration with remote people on papers, code, and projects.
Most of the iTunes playback is done via the Mini, and all additions to the iTunes library are done on the Mini. I do Hulu playback via the Mini. I used to do Netflix on the Mini, but switched over to doing it on the Xbox. For movies that I have saved on the server, I usually play them back via the Xbox because the Xbox does better with some codecs than the Mini (so it saves fiddling with the Mini to figure out whether to playback via Quicktime, VLC, or something else).
My next steps with the home network are:
Using my Mini as a server has the benefit of being able to run a mirrored boot drive. DHCP configuration means that address assignment can tell me if I've got an unwelcome guest camped on my WPA2-secured wifi. If I were just using the NAS, I wouldn't be able to run these servers and see so much about what's happening on my network. Most NASes are barely capable of supporting file checksum, let alone everything else that I've got going on here.