Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Feb 13

Edit and/or remove messages

I know this works on Windows, but it may also work on Mac, however I haven’t tested this on Mac.

You can right click on message in a chat window to edit or remove the message.  This is helpful when posting the wrong message to the wrong person (you can remove it) or you can edit a message when you made a typo.

The edit last message sent, simply click the up arrow on your keyboard, edit the message and press enter to re-post the updated message.

Sign Into Multiple Skype Accounts


Unlike some messaging programs, Skype doesn’t allow you to easily log into multiple accounts. Try to launch the Skype shortcut once you’ve already opened Skype and it will just bring your already-open Skype window to the front. But you may have multiple Skype accounts — perhaps you have one for work and one for personal use.

Rather than open Skype as another Windows user account, Skype has a hidden option you can use to open a new Skype instance.

To do this, press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog. In the Run dialog, enter the following command if you’re using a 32-bit version of Windows:

“C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe” /secondary

On 64-bit versions of Windows, enter the following command instead:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe” /secondary

Skype will open a second Skype window, which you can log into as another Skype account. If you wanted to use this frequently, you could create a new Windows shortcut that opened Skype with the /secondary switch.

Share you screen

You can share your screen with someone on Skype – useful to do presentations etc. withouth expensive software such as WebEx or TeamViewer.

When on a call (group or individual call) click on the + icon and then on “share screens”.

IRC Style commands

You can also enter commands by prefixing them with a forward slash (/) – This way of interacting should be familiar for folks who used IRC back in the day…

The commands available differ on the amount of people in the chat – i.e. is this a group chat or a one-on-one chat.  For one-on-one chats the only available commands are:

/me [text]
/add [skypename+]
/alertson [text]

The last command (/help) will show a list of available commands.

Full command listing:

Command Description
/add [Skype Name] Adds a contact to the chat. For instance:/add alex_cooper1 will add that member to the chat.
/alertson [text] Allows you to specify what needs to appear in a chat for you to be notified. For example,/alertson London will only alert you when the word “London” appears in the chat.
/alertsoff Disable message notifications.
/clearpassword Removes the password security.
/find [text] Finds specific text in a chat. For example,/find Charlie will return the first instance of the word “Charlie” in the chat.
/get allowlist Details people with access to the chat.
/get banlist Details people banned from the chat.
/get creator Details the person who created the chat.
/get guidelines See the current chat’s guidelines.
/get options Details active options for current chat – see /set options below for a list of the options available.
/get password_hint Get the password hint.
/get role Details your role in the chat.
/get uri Creates a URL link that other people can use to join the group chat.
/golive Starts a group call with other participants of the chat.
/info Details number of people in chat and maximum number available.
/kick [Skype Name] Eject chat member. For instance,/kick alex_cooper1 will eject that member from the chat.
/kickban [Skype Name] Ejects chat member and prevents them from rejoining chat. For instance,/kickban alex_cooper1 will eject that member from the chat and ban them from rejoining.
/leave Leave current group chat.
/me [text] Your name will appear followed by any text you write. For instance, /me working from home will cause the phrase “working from home” to appear next to your name in the chat. You can use this to send a message about your activities or status.
/set allowlist [[+|-]mask] .. Sets the members allowed in the chat. For instance, /set allowlist +alex_cooper1 will allow that member to join the chat.
/set banlist [[+|-]mask] .. Sets which members are banned from the chat. For instance, /set banlist +alex_cooper1will ban that member from the chat./set banlist -alex_cooper1 will allow them to rejoin it.
/set guidelines [text] Set a chat’s guidelines. For instance, /set guidelines No spoilers! These can be returned to be viewed in the chat by the command /get guidelines.
/set options [[+|-]flag] Sets options for this chat. For example: /set options -JOINING_ENABLED switches off the JOINING_ENABLED option, while /set options +JOINERS_BECOME_APPLICANTS will switch on the JOINERS_BECOME_APPLICANTS option.
The available flags are listed below:
HISTORY_DISCLOSED – Joiners can see the conversation that took place before they joined. The limit that they can see is either 400 messages or two weeks of time, depending on which is reached first.
JOINERS_BECOME_APPLICANTS – New users can join the chat, but cannot post or receive messages until authorized by a CREATOR or MASTER (see the table below for more information on roles).
JOINERS_BECOME_LISTENERS – New users can receive messages but cannot post any until promoted to the USER role.
JOINING_ENABLED – New users can join the chat.
TOPIC_AND_PIC_LOCKED_FOR_USERS – Only a user with a CREATOR role will be able to change the topic text or accompanying picture for the chat.
USERS_ARE_LISTENERS – Users with a USER role will be unable to post messages.
/set password [text] Create a password (no spaces allowed).
/set password_hint [text] Create the chat’s password hint text.
/setpassword [password] [password hint] Create a password and password hint for the chat.
/setrole [Skype Name] MASTER | HELPER | USER | LISTENER Allows you to set a role to each chat member. A description of roles is given in the table below.
/topic [text] Changes the chat topic.
/undoedit Undo the last edit of your message.
/whois [Skype Name] Provides details about a chat member such as current role.

Chat roles depend on whether you started the chat or were assigned a role by the chat creator or host:


Role Description
Creator The member who created the chat. There can be only one creator per chat. Only the creator can promote other members to masters.
Master Also known as chat hosts. Masters cannot promote other people to masters.
Helper A semi-privileged member. Helpers will not be affected by the USERS_ARE_LISTENERS option. Helpers cannot promote or demote other members.
User A member who can post messages into the chat.
Listener A member who can see messages but not post into the chat.
Applicant A member waiting for acceptance into the chat. Note: once accepted into the chat, members cannot be demoted to applicants.


I recently tried installing Dell Appassure Replay Core on a client’s server and received this error message:

Installation failed with error: 1. Bad state (invalid stored block lenghts)


At first I thought this was going to turn into a nightmare and I was about to phone Appassure support, when I Googled the error message.  I couldn’t find any information about this error pertaining to Appassure, but I did find a solution.

This seems to be a generic Windows Installer error that indicates that the installation media is corrupt.

I simply downloaded the installation files again, and hey presto it worked.

So if you get this error message I would suggest that you just try downloading the installer again.

I recently logged a call with Quickbooks South Africa (4th of Jan 2012)  with a problem I had getting my Quickbooks 2010 company file to upgrade to Quickbooks 2012.

After being advised to uninstall and reinstall the program and a whole string of other problems they came to the conclusion that they cannot assist me.

Thereafter I contacted the Quickbooks UK offices.  I advised them that I had spoken to the local Quickbooks office and that they could not help me.  They again took me through the same procedures of uninstalling and reinstalling the product.  Still no resolution.  I then waited about a week before they got back to me.  A support representative connected to my computer and redid all the diagnostics steps that had already been tried, including uninstalling .NET etc.  Still no resolution.  He then took a copy of my company file and advised that it could take up to 2 weeks before they got back to me.

Last night I received an e-mail from them:

I am writing to you regarding the QuickBooks Version 2010 Release 4 Company File send for review and received on Jan 17th, 2012.

As I understand it, you are unable to upgrade your QuickBooks version 2010 Company data file to version 2012 as it crashes during the upgrade process.

I have reviewed your file. I am able to upgrade the file to version 2012 if I shorten the business number.

The business number you have entered is 16 characters including numbers, alphabets, special characters and spaces. If you shorten it to 15 characters you should be able to upgrade it to version 2012.

Open the file in Version 2010, Go to the Company Menu and choose Company Information.

On the Company Information window, Click on the Business Number and shorten it by a character. I had removed one of the slash. You may want to remove some other character. But please make sure that the Business Number is not longer than 15 characters including numbers, alphabets, special characters and spaces. Click on OK to Save the Change.

Go back to the Company Menu and go to Company Information to ensure that the change was saved.

You can now upgrade the corrected file to version 2012 and it should upgrade without any issues.

I did as advised and my company file has been successfully upgraded to 2012.

I’m very happy that the problem has been resolved, it’s just horrific that it took a WHOLE MONTH to resolve such a silly problem.  One would think that the programmers would have been able to put some sort of validation in the software to prevent this type of data validation issue.

If you absolutely cannot resist the urge to forward a mail to a colleague or other e-mail contact, please follow these simple pointers on “netiquette”:

    • 1. If you don’t think the message is very funny – neither will the recipient.
    • 2. The larger it is the longer it takes to send (and receive) it. (Not everyone has super high speed uncapped internet!)
    • 3. If you forward a 10 Mb e-mail to 10 people that equates to 100 Mb of outbound traffic.  (Even if you send it as one e-mail with multiple recipients.)
    • 4. It is EXTREMELY rude to forward a mail in such a manner that everyone that receives it can see who you are sending it to and who sent it to you.
  • — In other words delete the e-mail header, footer and signatures.  (The header is the part that shows who sent the mail to who and other related information.)
  • — When you put multiple recipients on the BCC line (you don’t have to use the TO or CC line at all) then none of the recipients can see whom you are sending the mail to.
    • 5. Delete any irrelevant information and / or attachments before sending the mail.
  • — However, don’t send a mail with only pictures or a blank e-mail body as that will most likely be flagged as SPAM (junk mail)
  • — Leave some text (such as the subject line) in the body of the message
  • — Don’t send mails with a blank subject line or only the words “Hi” or “Hello” in the subject line – most mail servers block mails like this.
    • 6. Make sure you are not accidentally forwarding the mail to a client or other inappropriate recipient.
    • 7. If the message is not business related, flag the importance of the message as low as most mail servers will give a lower priority to messages flagged with a “low” priority.
    • 8. Only send “junk” mails outside normal business hours so that you don’t interfere with normal business processes.
  • — Most companies (including ours) have an in-house mail server (such as Microsoft Exchange)
  • — If the outbound mail queue on a mail server is very long then it slows the system and the network down and it can cause delays for all inbound / outbound traffic (such as legitimate business mails).
  • — Users on an Exchange server have the ability to schedule (or delay) an outbound e-mail.  Delayed mails (on Exchange connected mailboxes) will still be delivered even if your e-mail client (Outlook) is closed and / or your computer is switched off.

Please review the following screenshots (based on Microsoft Outlook 2007) for instructions on how to implement points 4, 5 and 8 above:

Holiday sweet holiday

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Mar 19

Hmm, so I never did post that update.

Sorry about that, but I have been extremely busy and am currently on holiday in the beautiful Isle of Man (02/03 till 04/04).

It is such a pleasure to be in a country where the internet just always works and where there are no “planned power outages”.

I’m currently working on some new ideas (restructure my schedule etc.) and will hopefully be able to allocate a daily (or at least) weekly timeslot to update my blog.

Until then, cheers! online

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Feb 13

Hello World!

I have finally managed to register the domain and this would be my first BLOG post ever.

The general idea behind this site would be a place where computer users in South Africa (and all over) can post their day to day IT and IS related experiences.

Be it a frustration you have or a tip.

Anyway, that’s it for my first post, maybe I’ll have something more (valuable) to add tomorrow.