Autocomplete cache changes in Outlook 2010

While creating a new Outlook profile the other day, I found that in Outlook 2010, the autocomplete cache (the file that stores previously entered destination addresses) is no longer stored in the .NK2 file we all know and love, but instead in a .DAT file that’s supposed to follow the Exchange account (not sure whether this is dependent on the version of Exchange server–the articles I was able to find are kind of sketchy on this functionality, so maybe someone who runs across this blog can fill me in?).

In earlier versions of Office, restoring the autocomplete cache is as simple as copying/renaming the old .NK2 file to match the name of the new Outlook profile. Unfortunately under the “new and improved” system, the .DAT filename no longer matches the profile name, so you need to figure out which .DAT file matches which profile (using timestamps, etc.) before copying the old .DAT file to a new one.

Here’s some additional reading:

“The specified Active Directory user already exists as a CRM user” Error

Ran into this issue today while trying to create a new user in CRM 4: “The specified Active Directory user already exists as a CRM user. You are attempting to create a user with a domain logon that is already used by another user. Select another domain logon and try again.”

After investigating, I ran across this extremely helpful article from MSDN UK. It walks you through tracking down which CRM user corresponds to a particular Active Directory user (SID), which unfortunately has to be traced through three separate SQL tables. Turns out my AD user had been assigned to another user’s CRM account for some reason, and the CRM account disabled.

Gapminder: An impressive tool for data visualization

A few days ago I ran across a really intriguing video showing researcher Hans Rosling introducing the new BBC documentary “The Joy of Stats”. Take a look below:

YouTube Preview Image

The data visualization in this video was impressive enough that I had to find out more. That led me to a talk by Rosling at TED in 2006. This video is basically a longer version of the one in the youtube video. Again, impressive stuff. While he makes some compelling points, I’m not really qualified to judge the validity of all his arguments. What I was really struck with is the power and intuitive beauty of the software he used in the presentation.

I did some more research, and sure enough, Rosling actually founded the nonprofit software company responsible for the tool you see in the videos. It’s called Gapminder, and it’s available for free both as a browser-based (see below) and a desktop version. Needless to say, this is the kind of tool that a geek like me could get lost playing with for a couple of hours. It looks like something that would be a great tool for social studies teachers, students, or even public policy makers.

Interestingly, the major intellectual property and talent behind the product was purchased by Google in 2007, shortly after execs were introduced to Rosling and Gapminder (the software was apparently called Trendalyzer at the time).

Use Dropbox as a CDN for your WordPress site

Using a CDN is a great idea in order to optimize the load time of your website, especially when it’s content-heavy. Basically you place your static content (pictures, sound, video, CSS, Javascript, etc.) on a third-party’s network of servers. Some of  the big CDNs are operated by Akamai and Amazon, among a bunch of others.

This has potential to speed up your site several ways. First off, the CDN’s servers are often just plain faster at delivering static content than the server your website runs on, particularly if you have a low-cost shared hosting plan.

Second, a well-designed CDN host your content on s geographically distributed network of servers, so users visiting your site download CDN-hosted content from whichever node of the network is closest rather than from your webserver, which could potentially be on the other side of the country or the world.

Finally, the HTTP protocol limits the number of simultaneous connections your browser can make to the same domain name (the limit has historically been 2 simultaneous connections, although some (most?) modern browsers increase that).  This was especially important in the early days of the web–if you let every browser make as many connections as it wants, a busy web server would quickly be brought to its knees. Your browser needs to make a separate server connection to download each file on the website–every image, video, stylesheet, etc. If you can come up with a quick way to double the number of possible HTTP connections, it would obviously speed up the page load process. Well, since all the files on the CDN have a different domain name, the browser can now max out its connections to the second CDN server too.

So far so good, but CDNs have typically been difficult and expensive to implement. However, I ran across a brilliant idea today that solves both of these problems: use a free Dropbox account as a CDN server using a WordPress plugin that takes care of all of the hard stuff for you. As a big WordPress fan, I obviously love this idea. There are of course a couple of limitations–Dropbox limits the total bandwidth on free accounts to 10 GB/day, and the plugin supports only WordPress theme files and not uploaded content so far. Still, that’s a good start, and 10 GB/day is a lot for most websites.

I’m going to be trying this on a couple of WordPress sites I run sometime soon, and I’ll post back with the results.