Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tweaking Outlook 2007

Outlook is too darn slow. How can I speed it up?
Outlook sometimes seems to have three speeds: slow, slower and slowest. It takes too long to load, and it's sluggish when it sends or receives mail -- in short, it takes too long to do anything at all. There must be some way to goose this thing.

How to fix it:
There's no single action you can take to speed up Outlook, but a combination of fixes should make Outlook zippier. We can't promise it will ever be a speed demon, but follow our advice and most likely you won't feel stuck in the slow lane.

First, slim down your Outlook .pst file. That by itself will do a world of good.

Then make sure that Outlook has the latest patches, via Windows Updates. There's one patch in particular that is important if you have sizable .pst files: Update for Outlook 2007 (KB933493). The patch is designed to speed up Outlook when using large .pst files, and many people have found it has made a significant difference in Outlook speed. In fact, they report that installing that patch alone solved their speed problems.

Next, kill any Outlook add-ins you don't need.

Quite a few people have reported that iTunes installs an Outlook add-in -- though for what purpose is unclear -- and that deleting it speeds up Outlook.

And some people have reported that Windows XP Fax Services causes their version of Outlook 2007 to behave sluggishly for whatever reason. If you don't fax in XP, you may be able to speed up Outlook by removing that feature. (To remove it, choose Control Panel --> Add or Remove Software --> Add/Remove Windows Components.)

Along the same lines, a number of users say the Business Contact Manager seriously slows down Outlook 2007, so if you have that installed, try uninstalling it using the same procedure.

Finally, check your RSS feeds. Outlook's RSS Feeds editor is a great feature, but using it can significantly slow things down. It comes preconfigured to receive a number of feeds that you may or may not want to receive. And over time, you may have subscribed to feeds you no longer read.

Select Tools --> Account Settings and click the RSS Feeds tab. You'll come to a screen like the one shown above. Scroll through your list of feeds. For the ones you no longer want, highlight them and select Remove. When you're done, click OK.

Outlook's attachments make it massively bloated.

If you regularly send and receive attachments, your Outlook .pst file can quickly become massively bloated. It's pretty easy for your .pst file to quickly get to 250MB or more, and I've known people whose files range up to 1GB and beyond. Among other problems, this slows down the speed at which Outlook loads and can lead to instability.

How to fix it:
It's time to put Outlook on a diet. First, find out where the fat is. Outlook 2007 has a very useful folder called "Larger Than 100 KB." Find it underneath Search Folders in your list of Outlook folders. As the name implies, it lists all e-mail messages that are larger than 100KB. By default, they should be listed with the largest files first, but if not, click the Size heading in the folder until you get them listed that way.

Now that you can see the largest e-mails, start trimming. If you're like me, you'll be surprised how many of the e-mails with attachments you no longer need; delete those. If you need the attachment, but don't need the accompanying e-mail, save the attachment to disk, then delete the e-mail.

If the opposite is true -- you want to save the e-mail but not its attachment -- you can save space by either saving the attachment outside of Outlook or deleting it altogether. First, save the attachment to disk. Then open the e-mail, right-click the attachment and choose Remove. The attachment will be deleted from Outlook, but the e-mail itself will remain.

The attachment problem in Outlook is so notorious that a third party has stepped in with a solution that helps you cut down the size of your .pst files by removing attachments. The free Kopf Outlook Attachment Remover saves attachments from Outlook, stores them on your local disk and replaces the attachments with a link to the stored file. You'll be able to open the attachment as you would normally, except that Outlook will grab the file from disk, rather than from inside its .pst file.

You can have the program automatically go through entire directories, removing attachments and replacing them with links, or you can instead do it e-mail by e-mail. Note that in Outlook, it will look as if the file is still there -- you'll see the file icon as you normally do for an attachment. But the file is actually on disk, not in Outlook.

Google Phones

Finally Google has launched google phone with a code name T-Mobile G1 powered with Google's Android operating system.

Google Phone might be a real threat to Apple's iPhone, which is the hot product from the date of its launch till today.

The Google's G1 phone is made by HTC and it has a touch sensitive screen, a computer like keyboard, Wi-Fi connections and it runs on Google's new Android operating system

Google Mobile is available in three colors (Black, White and Brown). Google Mobile has services pretty much similar to iPhone and at cheaper price. You have access to Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube and other Smartphone features.

Hard Drive in next 5 years

As solid-state disk (SSD) technology closes in on hard disk drive (HDD) capacity and price, experts say it may not be long before spinning disks are a thing of the past and a computer's storage resides in flash memory on the motherboard.

By making the drive part of a system's core architecture -- instead of a peripheral device -- data I/O performance could initially double, quadruple or more, according to Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at market research firm In-Stat.

"Instead of using a SATA interface, let's break that and instead of making it look like a disk drive, let's make it look like part of the memory hierarchy," McGregor said. "Obviously, if you break down that interface, you get more performance."

Currently, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) is the bus used to transfer data between a computer and storage devices, be it HDDs or SSDs in a 1.8-in., 2.5-in. or 3.5-in. disk drive form factor. SSD manufacturers have been fitting SSDs into a hard disk drive case to fit it into existing computer architectures.

Within three years, McGregor said SSDs with 256GB capacity -- already on the market -- will be close to the same price as hard drives. (A 256GB SSD for the new 17-in. MacBook Pro from Apple is a $900 build-to-order option, for instance. A 250GB HDD goes for about a tenth that price.) That will signal to manufacturers that it's time to consider an interface change. And, while SSDs will be lagging behind the 500GB to 1TB capacities of hard disk drives for some time to come, McGregor argues that users don't need that much storage anyway.

"We've already seen this trend in the netbook space, and we will see it more in the notebook platform. Storage will begin to look more like a memory module than a hard drive," said Dean Klein, vice president of Micron Corp.'s SSD group. "There's a move afoot to make it more like a card-edge connector, so the SSD would not have the cost of a mechanical connector. It would just have gold-plated fingers on the edge: No enclosure, just the circuit board."

Disk drive vendors are doubling the capacity of drives every 12 to 18 months, but In-Stat's data indicates that the average storage requirements of users increase in a more linear way. And, while HD video can drive a huge swing in storage requirements, the advent of online libraries and storage services tend to even out the trends, McGregor said.

According to In-Stat, SSD prices have been dropping 60% year over year. Currently, the price of consumer-grade SSD costs from $2 to $3.45 per gigabyte, with hard drives going for about 38 cents per gigabyte, according to Gartner Inc. and iSuppli Corp.
"Two years ago, SSDs cost $17.50 per gigabyte, so it's obvious that consumer NAND flash memory will soon be a true contender to hard disk drives -- it's just not there yet," Gartner analyst Joseph Unsworth said. "I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200, and that's going to happen around 2010. Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage."

Klein argued that using an SSD in its native state, as NAND chips on a board without an enclosure, will reduce cost, weight, power use and space.

In January last year, Lenovo launched the Lenovo ThinkPad X300, the industry's first mainstream notebook designed not to take a hard drive, but a 64GB SSD. Dell followed IBM with its all-SSD Latitude D420 ultra-mobile and D620 ATG semi-rugged notebooks.

"Moving forward people will design the entire notebook around SSD. You could spread SSD out over the mother board. So moving forward there will be a lot of custom notebooks with custom SSDs," said Brian Beard, marketing manager for Samsung's flash memory group.

Samsung, which sells laptops, not only manufactures and sells HDDs, but it's own line of SSD as well as selling flash memory to other vendors to resell.

Beard expects SSD penetration in the laptop market will only reach 30% by 2012, but he also believes around the same time HDD and SDD will reach price parity.

Within the next year, Micron expects to bring to market a high-end SSD that could achieve 1GB/sec. throughput by using a PCIe interface rather than traditional SATA or SAS. The transfer speed is four times that offered by Intel's newest, enterprise-class SSD, the X25-E.

In a video on Micron's blog site, Joe Jeddeloh, director of the vendor's Advanced Storage Technology Center, demonstrated the technology using a two-processor, eight-core Intel Xeon PC and a card with two SSDs and 16 flash channels. A blurry readout showed the SSD reaching 800MB/sec. throughput, with Jeddeloh claiming that it "will be hitting a bandwidth of 1GB/sec. and at least 200,000 IOPS," or I/O operations per second.

The card was directly connected to a PCI Express (PCIe) slot, bypassing SATA or Serial Attached SCSI interfaces. While PCIe has the same throughput as SATA II -- 3Gbit/sec. -- PCIe offers more channels.

Using file transfers ranging from 2KB to 2MB, Jeddeloh demonstrated 150,000 to 160,000 random reads per second in the video. "That's what flash can do when it's managed correctly," he said.

While Micron's SSD technology is aimed at high-end applications that would run on Fibre Channel SANs, such as transactional databases or streaming video, Klein said consumer-grade computers using SSDs directly connected to a PCIe bus with four lanes (x4 slots) could soon achieve similar results.

Physical PCIe slots may contain from one to 32 lanes of data. Currently, PCIe Generation 1 offers 250MB/sec. throughput per lane. The second generation of PCIe is expected out next year and will offer twice the throughput, or 500MB/sec. per lane. While SATA 3.0, expected out this year, also doubles throughput, it only offers one lane.

"Each lane of that x4 PCIe is as fast as a SATA 3.0's 6Gbit/sec. bus," Klein said. "So I can be four times as fast on that one slot as an SSD could be on a SATA 3.0 connection. That's really the direction things are going."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Access a Free Yahoo! Mail Account in Mozilla Thunderbird

To set up a free Yahoo! Mail account in Mozilla Thunderbird:

* Install YPOPs! and make sure it is running.
* Select Tools | Account Settings... from the menu in Mozilla Thunderbird.
* Click Add Account....
* Make sure Email account is selected.
* Click Continue.
* Enter your name under Your Name:.
* Type your Yahoo! Mail address ("", for example) under Email Address:.
* Click Continue.
* Make sure POP is selected under Select the type of incoming server you are using..
* Type "localhost" under Incoming Server:.
o If you use Windows Vista or run into troubles later, try using "" instead of "localhost".
* Click Continue.
* Enter your Yahoo! Mail user name (e.g. "example") under Incoming User Name:.
o Mozilla Thunderbird should already have entered that for you.
* Click Continue.
* Type a name for your new Yahoo! Mail account under Account Name: (e.g. "Yahoo! Mail").
* Click Continue.
* Now click Done.

To make sure we can send mail in addition to receiving it (and optionally have a copy of all send messages stored in Yahoo! Mail's online Sent folder):

* Highlight Outgoing Server (SMTP) in the list of account on the left.
* Click Add....
* Type "localhost" under Server Name:.
If you use Windows Vista or run into troubles later, again try using "" instead of "localhost".
* Make sure Use name and password is checked.
* Type your Yahoo! Mail user name under User Name:.
* Click OK.
* Highlight the Yahoo! Mail account we created before.
* Under Outgoing Server (SMTP):, make sure localhost is selected.
* Click OK.