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Windows Update problem

A couple of months ago, I set up a new 60Gb replacement HD on my ThinkPad A31p with Windows 2000. After somehow corrupting the TCP/IP stack while trying to connect to a kstate.net wireless access point at the KSU Foundation, I reinstalled W2K. Aside from a tendency for it to lock up when shutting the monitor off (especially with no screensaver), it seems to be pretty stable.

One problem I have, though, is mail security: does anyone know how to make OE6 stop previewing embedded graphics?

Outlook Express 6 Service Pack 1 on Windows XP (Home and Pro) blocks embedded graphics by default. As you may know, previewing such graphics can mean an HTTP request on the sender's web site, meaning that you may have just logged your IP on the server of whoever sent you the message. If the mail and server are operated by a spammer, you've just confirmed receipt of the spam and your e-mail address could be marked as valid.

My Windows 2000 MSDN CD came with OE5, which I upgraded by doing a Windows Update that purported to give me Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 SP1. Later, however, the check box in OE6 (Tools -> Options -> Security) that allows one to set the "image preview" option seems to be missing. I checked the Microsoft Knowledge Base and it says this is a feature of OE6 SP1 for both WinXP and Win2K, so I went to Windows Update again. There were no critical updates, nor any hardware or software ones, so I went back and found a cumulative security update for OE6 SP1 (KB823353). When I ran it, it said that it required OE6 SP1 to be installed. I checked the about box of IE6, and it had SP1, so I was stumped.

I downloaded IE6setup.exe, When I ran it, it came up with a dialog: "IE6 SP1 is already installed. Cancel or install again anyway?" I cancelled at first, but couldn't get it to turn of OE6 picture previewing, so I tried instaling it again. It rebooted, did some configuration, and then I was able to run the OE6 SP1 cumulative security update executable.

Woe is me! Now Windows update comes up with the little planet glyph in the system tray and says "security updates are now available", offering that very update. No matter what I do - an Express install, a Custom install, or minimizing the window - it comes right back. I've tried updating and rebooting and rebooting without updating. Even if I go to Windows Update and hide that item, it pops up. The only way to shut its digital nagging off now is to disable automatic security updates!

And guess what? I still can't turn off image previewing. As nearly as I can tell, Outlook Express hasn't changed at all since I first installed OE6 using Windows Update.

My questions, thus, are:

  • 1. Is there an option one can manually set to turn off picture previewing in Outlook Express 6 under Windows 2000?

  • 2. How do I make Windows Update stop offering me the OE6 SP1 cumulative security update, either by actually installing it or by detecting that the most recent version is installed?

  • 3. Doesn't IE6 SP1 automatically have the SP1 version of OE6? If so, why would the cumulative update executable refuse to run?

Here are some FAQs that people ask me when I tell them about this problem. For my part, they are frequently questioned answers. :-)

  • 1. "Can't you run WinXP?" Nope. Numerramar ran WinXP for 3 years and was generally not very stable: I had to restart every week, half of the time because it bluescreened from driver problems and half the time because applications would lock up (Dreamweaver MX was the worst culprit, followed by my WinXP screensaver and power management software). The reason I run Win2K on Numerramar, though, is that it is now my "home base" system: it runs older, stable versions of applications (Office XP instead of 2003, MySQL 3 instead of 4 or 5, Photoshop CS instead of CS2). No pre-release software whatsoever is installed: no bloody alpha, beta, public previews, or release candidates! There are also some legacy software packages on Numerramar that are not known for stability (Studio MX instead of MX 2004 or Studio 8) and a couple of legacy hardware items that only work under Win2K (e.g., my Winnov VideumCam).

    But there you have it. Hirilonde (a Dell Inspiron 6000) is now my "away team" system: it travels with me, goes into all the dangerous environments, has WinXP Home SP2 installed on it, runs funky alpha releases, burns my CDs and DVDs, and generally gets treated like a cheap, expendable piece of crap. It has 1Gb of RAM to Numerramar's 512Mb, though, and I bang the hell out of it. Numerramar has earned a nice, comfortable semi-retirement.

  • 2. "Eww! Outlook Express! That's, like, the worst possible client! Ever! Why not run Thunderbird, or Outlook 2003, or heck, even Eudora or Pegasus?" Simple. I have a couple of those grandfathered-in free Hotmail accounts from 2001 and 2003 that are accessible from Outlook Express. I can't hit Hotmail with any non-Microsoft reader, though. As for Outlook 2003, it's just inertia. Due to one of those spontaneous Office XP errors, I lost the ability to search message headers on Numerramar a few years ago (October, 2001). I switched to Outlook Express 6 for about 7 months; my contact lists got all fragmented as a result. Ever since, I'm very chary of Outlook.

  • 3. "Dude, GMail has POP3! Just use that and move all your Hotmail over!" I'll admit, I've been tempted ever since tmehlinger and thekuffs told me about this yesterday during the massforge meeting. There are two problems with this plan for me.

    First, I am subscribed to only about 20 frooglepoopillion mailing lists, and it would be the Mother of All Pains in the Butt to move them all to Google Mail.

    Second, I have a phobia: call it "fear of the loss of e-mail", whatever the Greek word for that might be. I've lost less than 400 out of nearly 200000 e-mails since early 1997, not counting nuked spam. Well, guess what Outlook Express does with POP servers? Yes, that's right, it deletes the messages from the servers by default when it first downloads them. "Oh, just shut that off before you start up POP," you say? No, you don't say, because you remember that I am a memoryless fishie, yes? Yes.

    Anyway, anyone who has every even thought about restoring POP-downloaded messages to the server from Windows has probably realized what Outlook Express does to foldersmailboxes, and to mail headers in particular. The received date is just one of the fields to get mutilated. About 5 years ago, I posted queries on USENET, trying to find out how to get messages back into my folders on Unix (SunOS, BSD) or Linux (RedHat). The response was a collective "hahahahahahah!" except for someone who pointed me to an obscure package on FreshMeat that never worked for me.

  • 4. "OK, so why not pay MSN $20 a year?" Generally speaking, I'm not too cheap to pay $20 a year for a good service; in the case of otherwise-free e-mail, though, I believe that the ability to use a third-party client (IMAP or POP, as oppposed to HTTP) should be free. If it comes down to it, though, I'll choose this option rather than be stuck using two clients on every system (Thunderbird or Outlook 2003 or Entourage, plus Outlook Express).



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 10th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I do not know but you are always

up to date on your computer Sir.
Sep. 10th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
Keeping computers "up to date"
"Up to date"? Surely you jest! My software is 1-6 years out of date at any given time (2-3 is the average)!

The problem is that I'm conflicted. I want to be an early adopter, but I am unwilling to toss old systems, so I end up being a late adopter in one of two ways. Either I don't have the budget to get all the new gadgets and software1 or I put too much time into upkeep and maintenance (across several operating systems) to fully learn to use the new things I install. Being perpetually busy with teaching and research doesn't help this situation, either. :-)

1 I had what is probably the worst possible investment strategy in new hardware. Every few years I would buy an exorbitantly expensive, top-of-the-line, bleeding edge computer (a notebook every 3 years or so, a desktop every other year). I'd stop short of maxing out my budget by not buying all the RAM and spare parts I needed. Then I'd start drooling over various accessories and put my budget to the limit.

Nowadays, I have started lagging the bleeding edge by a year to 18 months and buying nice, cheap systems such as the Dell Inspiron 6000 I just got in June. $1100 (1500 fully tricked out) instead of $3200 (4200 fully tricked out) leaves me about $2000 to spend on RAM upgrades and another notebook in a year and a half, and my systems are not only more stable, but serve as mutual backups for each other.

Now, if I could just learn to do this with software and PDAs, too...

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 10th, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
Re: POP it anyway
Thanks for the suggestiosn.

See, I don't mind having many accounts or protocols; I just can't spare the mental load to keep multiple clients times 11 home systems.

Your idea is good, though: I'm now looking for POP plugins for Thunderbird or Outlook 2003 that might be able to hit Hotmail. The net is full of misinformation: either cluebie questions or blanket assertions that it's impossible because Hotmail is web-only or inaccessible through non-MS products because it is strictly Microsoft proprietary.

Sep. 10th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC)
Hotmail Popper for Thunderbird
Ah, I commented too soon - I see that Hotmail Popper works with clients such as Thunderbird. Very nice! I'll go try that right now.

Thanks again,
Sep. 10th, 2005 07:53 pm (UTC)
Aside from a tendency for it to lock up when shutting the monitor off (especially with no screensaver), it seems to be pretty stable.
How do you turn the monitor of a laptop off?

How do I make Windows Update stop offering me the OE6 SP1 cumulative security update, either by actually installing it or by detecting that the most recent version is installed?
Have you tried just letting Windows Update try to update it?

Doesn't IE6 SP1 automatically have the SP1 version of OE6? If so, why would the cumulative update executable refuse to run?
It may include an option to install OE6 that is turned off by default.

What's wrong with using Ringil/Fingolfin/KSU/etc.?
Sep. 11th, 2005 11:22 pm (UTC)
Just as a way-too-late aside, it's probably much easier to repair the TCP/IP stack than it is to reinstall Win2k. Ah well :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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