Sunday, October 08, 2006

Two very "Comic" Solutions!

Despite the rant'ish tone of my title, I'm pretty happy about these two gems.

Volume 1 - The Cool-Aid Stays Down

In my last post, "What I get for Drinking Microsoft Cool-Aid" I went on a rant about a number of of which was my inability to get my new (yes, dearlings...and legal) copy of Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003 activated.

Activated. (Not to be confused with the concept of Registration...)

Get used to that term, Activation. I think it is Microsoft's revenge on the world for not being allowed to use the word "integrated" (as in Internet Explorer, or Windows Media Player...). Anyway.

When we last left the thrilling episode, Claus was trying to escape from the confines of Microsoft Office imprisonment. He was having to say the secret release code to the Microsoft guards to gain his release and allow unfettered access to his program.

Deep into "Last Night" when that term isn't technically accurate anymore and become "Earlier Morning" Claus carefully consulted the myriad of Activation troubleshooting guides he had tattooed to his left and his right leg. Nope. Nothing helpful there.

Each timed I tried, the activation wizard would seem to lock up, then eventually progress to a slowly moving bar and finally give me the following error message: "A communication error has occurred. Your request cannot be processed at this time. Please try again in a few minutes."

I had shut down my firewall, I was getting to the net just fine. I had even tried to open Internet Explorer first--just in case it hopped across that connection.

Nothing. So I went to bed thinking that maybe the activation servers were having a party.

This morning I got up, started the weekly laundry going, and then fired up the old pc. Troubleshooting time.

1) Try Activation again. Nope. Same problems. -- maybe it isn't the servers.

2) Check net. Nope. Running fast and strong.

3) Shut down firewall. Still the same problem.

4) Think, think, think. What do I know about how this activation feature must work? Obviously, Word is calling the command to go to the net to check the activation. Monitoring it via ProcessExplorer, I don't see it kicking off Internet Explorer. Could it be checking internally to the Office programming? Claus has an Idea!

5) In Word 2003, I enabled the Web toolbar. I tried clicking the "homepage" icon. Nothing for quite a while, then finally--Bammo. Internet Explorer launches and displays my homepage.

6) I verify that it is calling to the Net properly by shutting down IE and typing a web-address into the document, then launching the link. Working great.

7) I go to the Activate Product option under Help in the menu bar list. Fire it up.

8) In under five seconds the Activation Wizard has launched, connected, and authenticated (activated) our copy.

9) Golden!

So what happened here? Well appears that when Office 2003 installed it didn't properly configure itself to pick up the network connections internally to the application. Funny. So by forcing it to look for a web-page, it finally (and correctly) auto-configured it's Web connection settings, thereby now allowing the activation feature to pass on through to the other side.

File that one away you Microsoft product troubleshooting wackos.

Volume 2 - The Return of Rocket Raccoon!

When we last left our fearless hero, Claus, he had escaped from the confines of his Evil Empire captors. Now, making his way across the Net, he was being mercilessly hounded by a cute and generally useful Fox nipping at his heels.

"Love, Hate and Firefox..." What gives?

Just when he had about had it with the apostrophe key firing up the Firefox "Find" bar, Heroic Rocket Raccoon comes crashing to the rescue via the comments!

Ray Cornwall (of Why I Love Comics) posted a tip that the wacky apostrophe behavior I am getting in Firefox is not, in fact a bug, but indeed a feature.

Officially: Find As You Type (formerly called Type Ahead Find). Thank the gods they changed that feature name, although I would have lobbied for "Irritate Bloggers with the Apostrophe Key Trick" name myself....

Furthermore, he helpfully drops tip that by diving into the about:config and setting the accessibility.typeaheadfind.autostart value to "False" you can disable that nuisance.

So I tried it. But it didn't work for me.


Buried in the description page under Caveats: "This preference has no effect in Firefox--see bug 254592)

I checked out bug 254592.

Yep. Dialog thread seems to indicate that the feature does not work in Firefox 2.0 builds yet. Bummer.

So Rocket Raccoon jets off into obscurity yet again...leaving me frustrated, but wiser now on my Foxy Friends behavior.

Sometimes it's just like that...and it still doesn't clear up that annoying copy/paste bad behavior sinkhole I had been running into.



Elizabeth said...

I'm just coming across this post of yours because I downloaded the OneNote trial, and am having this activation problem. I had the same problem a few months ago when I was trying to activate the regular Office trial, but eventually it just worked. The internal internet thing was a very good idea; however, I don't have the option to open the web toolbar in OneNote. Any ideas on that front? How can I get OneNote to try and confgure its internet settings?

Claus said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Hope Austin grows on you! Austin is a happenin' place...though I prefer life down here in Houston a bit more...even with those occasional hurricane scares....

I haven't used OneNote in ages.

Instead I use EverNote instead. It offers many of the same capabilities as OneNote...and it is FREE (for personal use) as well. The paid version has some extra bells and whistles.

It is pretty slick and very stable. Has a simple learning curve.

The way I understand how some of the Microsoft "trial" versions work is that some features are disabled until the product is activated...that may be why you can't enable the Web toolbar.

Also, apparently the Microsoft activation servers can be "finicky" at times. Keep trying...

Another trick you might want to try is to uninstall it, then do a reboot and reinstall...see if that shakes loose the activation issue.

One more thing I could suggest; open OneNote and create a new note. Then open your web-browser of choice (Firefox/IE/Opera...) and try to drag a web-page link (anyone) over into your note. That should create a note with an embedded hyperlink.

Now close out all your browsers.

(I'm assuming here that Internet Explorer is still set as your preferred browser...)

Click the link you just made in your note to open the web page up. Hopefully it will launch IE without any issues.

If so, hopefully that will configure OneNote to point correctly to the web settings stored in IE.

Now with IE open, try running the activation feature again and see if it connects up.

Good Luck!