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Alice in Vistaland

Can I Just Do Some Work?

My company is in the middle of a Windows Vista deployment (for details, see "Sneak Preview: How to Survive a Windows Vista Migration (and Thrive Afterward)"), and we here in the Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Magazine editorial department were among the first to be migrated a few months ago. I like my new laptop, I love my big new desktop monitor, and I eventually learned where in Word 2007's Ribbon interface to find the five or so icons that I can't live without and for which there seem to be no keyboard shortcuts.


I've been having lots of computer-related problems over the past few months, though. For example, this morning, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 asked me for permission to archive old items, and I told it to go ahead. A little later, it told me it had been unsuccessful in archiving the Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Calendar folders because You don't have appropriate permission to perform this operation. When I'm feeling under the gun, as I am right now, my default response to new and unexpected error messages is to temporarily ignore or work around them if I can. Because I just recently returned from a week away from work and still have lots of catching up to do, I didn't choose to follow up on this problem immediately, but I did reboot.


A few minutes later, I tried to delete a folder from my Documents folder and received the error This operation can only be performed when you are connected to the network. Hmmm. Earlier in the morning I'd deleted a document from my Documents folder; I wonder what's different about deleting a folder—or this folder. I rebooted (again) and tried to delete the folder. It didn't work. The stars seemed to be aligned against me, so I called our Help desk.


The technician tried to remote in to my system, but he couldn't find me on the network. He asked me to shut down, undock my laptop, connect the network cable directly to the back of my computer, and start up again. But I still couldn't delete the folder, and the tech still couldn't find me on the network. He had me connect to my home drive on the network, open my Documents folder from there, and try to delete the folder. That went fine until I clicked Delete, only to see the same error message.


Not knowing what else to do, the tech escalated my problem to our network support team. If experience is any indication, it'll be a couple more days before I hear from someone.


As I continued to work for the next few hours, I sent and received email without a problem. Then I opened a promotional email and clicked an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the message, only to have Outlook inform me that Outlook failed to start correctly last time. Starting Outlook in safe mode will help you correct or isolate a startup problem in order to successfully start the program. Some functionality may be disabled in this mode. Do you want to start Outlook in safe mode?


What's a user to do? I clicked No because I need to get some work done! And I'm still getting email from co-workers, so it doesn't seem to be a problem that will prevent me from actually accomplishing something useful. Besides, once I'm in safe mode, what do I do then?


I know I spend more time trying to solve problems on my laptop than I do maintaining my car—and I'm religious about car maintenance. I've already rebooted my system at least four times today, wasting a good 30 minutes in the process. Is it too much to expect a brand-new computer and OS to be at least as reliable as my 18-year-old Accord?


—Barb Gibbens

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