Words and Software

Technical writing for Windows 10. (old: Intelligent Systems Service, Data Protection Manager, and Operations Manager)

April, 2006

  • DPM and Single Instance Store (SIS) KB Article

    As promised, the Knowledge Base (KB) article that explains DPM and SIS is now available online.

    Especially useful are the instructions for disabling SIS, whether you want to retain the affected data or not. (Requires editing the Registry.)

  • SyncToy and .NET Framework

    As I mentioned recently, SyncToy sounds like a great utility for me, and I finally got around to downloading it at home.

    Only to be told I didn't have the right version of .NET Framework. Unfortunately, the link provided went to .NET Framework 2.0, when SyncToy requires 1.1 (my computer was running 1.0). I couldn't find 1.1 easily so I postponed the whole deal.

    But now there's a KB article about installing .NET Framework 1.1 on different operating systems. I hope it helps me get SyncToy up and running...

  • DPM Error Code Catalog published

    The DPM Error Code Catalog has been published for download, in Word format, with the errors listed in numerical order. And the reason that it wasn't available sooner is...we guessed wrong.

    See, it was in our original content plan for DPM 2006. We even assembled and formatted it, as an appendix to the Operations Guide. But then the argument was raised as to why we were including all these errors, some of which might never be seen by anyone, particularly since we were not adding more information to the errors -- it's merely a consolidation of what you actually see in the product, an error and a suggested action.

    The "nobody wants to see the whole list and it might make customers think the product is too complicated, too much can go wrong" argument won out. We removed references to the appendix, and filed the draft away.

    I haven't counted up the number of times since the product was released that I emailed a copy of the catalog to someone. Suffice to say, we finally recognized that it's useful information and that some customers want it. So we pulled it out, dusted it off to make it pretty as a stand-alone document, and threw it on the download center for whoever wants it. Enjoy!

  • Data disasters: stories

    I always seem to find the most interesting stuff when I'm looking for something else. In this case, I was checking out common usage of "onsite" and "offsite", and I came across true stories of computer disasters at Amarillo DataSafe, Inc.

    Anecdotes such as the ones on that page are excellent learning tools, because they really drive home just how easily (and unexpectedly) something can happen that affects the data on your computer.

    Plus they're fun to read. Some gems:

    • ...the grand daughter was playing a game and deleted the company records.
    • ...While the manager was off, the owner came in and "changed a few things".
    • ...Backup method: printed copies of all documents
  • Looks like a file synchronization solution (Windows XP)

    Tristank mentioned a Powertoy that sounded interesting, SyncToy for Windows XP.

    (An aside...I think it's odd that back when hard drive space was limited and expensive, I'd download anything that caught my interest...and now that I have lots of inexpensive storage space, I'm much more particular...)

    The marketing-speak didn't quite sell me, so I went for SyncToy's documentation first. Right up front was a scenario that I could identify with:

    "For instance, imagine you have pictures on one computer (perhaps your desktop computer), and pictures on another computer (perhaps your laptop). Quite a few of the pictures are already on both computers, but you do not remember exactly which ones are on both. You may want to get all the pictures on both computers. You could use Windows Explorer to copy all the pictures from one file to another, but simply copying all the pictures from one computer to the other has several shortcomings. One is that files that already exist on the other computer will be copied again, wasting time, disk space, and network bandwidth. Another issue is that you may have renamed some or all of your pictures from the names the camera generated to names based on the content, such as renaming HHOD4217.JPG to GrandCanyon.jpg. In that case, if the other computer already has HHOD4217.JPG, considerable time and disk space can be saved by recognizing that it is the same picture. SyncToy automatically renames the numbered file name to GrandCanyon.jpg on the other computer for you, and saves you the trouble of renaming the file manually."

    Now that is a situation I've been in (okay, I'm still in it and I honestly intended to reconcile all my photos one of these days). So I'm going to install SyncToy and live up to my good intentions.

    I'm also making note of how my perception of the product changed when presented with a realistic scenario that mirrored my needs, so I can think about how to do more of that in the documentation for the next version of DPM.

  • How many results to display

    Elinor Mills reports on CNET news.com that Microsoft is testing a change on the Windows Live search site that would allow us to scroll through results without having to click to go to the next page. Personally, I think it would be an excellent improvement, and I wish they were testing it on the Gadgets Gallery as well. To scan the available 218 gadgets in the permitted groups-of-15 = 13 clicks.

    I went to Windows Live and searched on online games to see how "infinite results" would work -- I like it! I spin the wheel on my mouse and the list keeps moving. I'd like the results numbered in-line, but that's just a nice-to-have; the numbered grouping currently visible in the search window is listed at the top of the screen for reference.

    "Infinite" is overstating it, I guess. I reached #245 of 147,110,691 and the results stopped. Couldn't keep moving down the list, and no "next page" to get started on the next batch. Well, that's why the site is labelled Beta, yes? I still could have viewed the entire gallery of Gadgets in one screen with this approach.