Outlook 2013 folding lines

Well that was a surprise, in an internal email discussion at work some content appeared to be missing. Turned out it had been wrapped by Outlook. Here’s what I sent:

Alice Engineer
Bob Engineer <- relocated from US(?) to the UK
Clare Engineer
Doug Engineer

Here’s how it appeared in Outlook, something I don’t see as I use Thunderbird:

Alice Engineer
Bob Engineer <- relocated from US(?) to the UK Clare Engineer Doug Engineer

Why? Turns out Outlook is being smart with line breaks. Checking carefully the recipient should have seen this:


You can click on that message to toggle whether it does this or not.

For some reason it’s not as clever as it could be and folds some lines at not others.

You can turn this behaviour off in File -> Options -> Mail -> Message Format:


Of course, that doesn’t help my potentially confused recipients unless I tell everyone to change this setting – hence, sort of, this post 🙂


Two near misses in an hour cycling on quiet back roads

I was alarmed to have two near accidents on my bike at a normally quiet junction within an hour.

In my opinion the cars were driving too fast for the conditions – a narrow road, two lines of parked cars, limited visibility approaching the junction – but they’re weren’t helped by the faded give way lines. See if you can spot them here:


The give-way lines are almost completely invisible. They are worn and the slight rise in the road makes it even harder to see them. There’s no supporting signage.

On Saturday morning (5th April) on a cloudy day with good visibility at roughly 11:30am and 12:30am I was cycling north and then south down Radnor Road with one of my children on their own bike. On both occasions a car travelling west down Bonser Road failed to give way or obviously slow down.

The first time a car travelling fast stopped just in time, narrowly missing us. They had failed to slow or otherwise give way. They apologised profusely.

The second time a car shot straight across the junction at an even faster speed with no obvious slowing or giving way, fortunately we were 10-20 feet short of the junction at the time. Had we’d been at the junction I’m reasonably sure we’d have been hit, hard. The driver would have had difficulty seeing us given the reduced view around the junction due to cars parked close to the junction.

Talking to a local resident, Bonser Road is sometimes used to bypass Tower Road and the roundabout linking Cross Deep Road, Waldegrave Road and Strawberry Vale. Holmes Road and Riverview Gardens are less popular due to being less straight. Bonser Road allows bypassing speed bumps in Tower Road.

I logged it with the Council.

I’ve regularly cycled this route for four years and it’s the first time I’ve had a near miss as close as that, let alone two.

Update, Thursday 24th April 2014

Fixed! Thanks LBRuT.


iOS silently fails to send drafts from unrecognised email addresses

I just found an email bug in iOS 7.0.2 – if you open a draft email where the from address isn’t one of those listed against the account you can edit and send with the usual “swoosh” but the mail is neither delivered, copied to your sent folder nor otherwise recoverable without recourse to backups.

Steps to reproduce:

  • On another system, create an email with a from address not registered with your iOS device
  • Open the draft on the iOS device and hit Send
  • You get the “swoosh” but the email isn’t delivered, is not in your sent folder or indeed anywhere I can find

If I add the from address to my iOS settings for that mail account and try again it works as expected.

Verified on my iPhone – I’ve not tried the iPad or iPod and haven’t tried other ISPs (it could be provider specific).

Dimensions of National Culture

Dimensions of National Culture – fCulture GPS logoascinating application of science to cultural differences by Gerte Hofstede. You may have heard of the Big Five personality traits, here’s the same thing for countries. From Hofstede’s web site:

The values that distinguished countries from each other could be grouped statistically into four clusters. These four groups became the Hofstede dimensions of national culture:

  • Power Distance (PDI)
  • Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)
  • Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)

A fifth Dimension was added in 1991 based on research by Michael Bond who conducted an additional international study among students with a survey instrument that was developed together with Chinese employees and managers.

That Dimension, based on Confucian dynamism, is Long-Term Orientation (LTO) and was applied to 23 countries.

In 2010, research by Michael Minkov allowed to extend the number of country scores for this dimension to 93, using recent World Values Survey data from representative samples of national populations.

There’s a tool on the site to compare countries. For example, you’d have thought Sweden was very like Denmark – according to his research there are differences. There’s also an iPhone app called Culture GPS to give you the same insight while on the go.

Internally my company gives us access to GlobeSmart:

GlobeSmart is a powerful online tool available to [employees]. It provides information on conducting business effectively in over 50 countries. Developed from extensive research and interviews with business people from each country, it is organized into more than 50 continuously updated topics. It helps you learn how to communicate, build relationships, and collaborate with new and existing colleagues and customers around the globe.

Lots more to GlobeSmart than I can cover here, they do refer to Hofstede‘s work.

iPhone – Cannot send mail, no password provided for account

Found my iPhone refusing to send email today despite months of reliable operation. No obvious changes I’m aware of since I last successfully sent email. It reported:

Cannot send mail, no password provided for account

Strange – the password was set. I tried entering the correct password again – important data point, no “Verifying …” cycle. Still failed. Set it to something wrong, “Verifying …” ran and confirmed it was wrong. I set it right, no “Verifying …” cycle. Still not working. Cold booted the phone (power + home held until you see the Apple logo). No joy. Killed Mail. No joy. Hmm.

Finally fixed it. I set the password incorrectly, let the “Verifying …” cycle run (and fail) but saved the settings anyway. Tried to send email, password incorrect. Set the password correctly, verifies OK, now it all works.


Applying the GDE matrix to cycling?

As a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and a regular cyclist I’ve wondering whether the Goals for Driver Education (GDE) matrix can be applied to developing cyclist safety. With my own children learning to ride on the roads it’s more pertinent today than ever.

Briefly the matrix maps four levels to three areas. The levels are:

  • Goals for life and skills for living
  • Goals and context of driving
  • Driving in traffic
  • Vehicle Control

The three areas are:

  • Knowledge and Skill
  • Risk Increasing Aspects
  • Self Assessment

It’s a hierarchical model and driver/cyclist training typically focuses on the lower two levels. Various road safety organisations are promoting focussing on the higher levels as a more effective means of developing safer drivers.

For example, you may have great control, be experienced in traffic, but you just missed your turning and you’re late – suddenly you find yourself taking more risks.

The lower levels are much easier to explain and teach. The highest level is about who you are and your attitudes – much harder to fix but surely worthy of the investment.

Why RSS doesn’t work for me – consumers versus producers and one tool to rule them all?

I just realised why I don’t use RSS readers very often – you can’t create content with them.

I doubt there will ever be one tool to rule them all – Facebook is trying very hard in this area – but I want to minimise the number of ways I have of keeping up with and contributing to communities both inside and outside my company.

To successfully follow communities an RSS reader beats visiting each one manually but if I want to contribute I have to step outside the RSS reader.

RSS makes perfect sense for (say) news, eg The Guardian – where I do use RSS – but apart from that I don’t ‘consume’ that much (note to self, reconsider intent to purchase an iPad 2).

When it comes to active participation I find myself being sucked back into communities that run on email – the lowest common denominator in more than one sense. Other communities get less attention, eg Facebook. In some ways the communities that are a priority for me do tend to end up in my INBOX. Others have to wait until I have time to browse.

Are there any RSS readers that will let you post content?

A quick search suggests not and I suspect the problem is not the tools but the lack of a common protocol to post content.

Perhaps another way of putting it is that I tend towards producing and less consuming?

Fixing Thunderbird 3 on Solaris running out of file descriptors

I recently started running Thunderbird 3.0.3 on Solaris with a large 2000+ mail folder hierarchy accessed through IMAP. It rapidly becomes unusable. Problems seen include:

1. In stderr the following sorts of message are seen:

(thunderbird-bin:7792): Gtk-WARNING **:
Error loading icon: Failed to open file
Too many open files

2. The GUI pops up errors like this:

Unable to open the summary file for XXX. Perhaps there
was an error on disk, or the full path is too long.

Where XXX varies.

3. Some icons in the menus appear as a blank page with a
red cross (x) in them.

4. Mouse and keyboard operations silently fail.

Restarting Thunderbird corrects the problem for a few minutes but then problem returns.

Running pfiles(1) against the thunderbird-bin process shows file descriptors being limited to around 256:

$ pfiles $(pgrep -u $LOGNAME thunderbird-bin) | tail

The open files are predominantly the local cached file of the IMAP folder.

Some internal discussion found the following workaround, hurrah!

$ ulimit -n 2048
$ export LD_PRELOAD_32=/usr/lib/extendedFILE.so.1
$ thunderbird

Essentially it’s hitting the 32-Bit stdio 256 File-Descriptors Limitation. See the man pages on extendedFILE(5).

Solaris bug logged (6955102) – though I’m not sure whether the fix is to have the workaround in the Solaris start scripts or work with the Thunderbird developers to have it handle FDs better.

How people actually develop – 70/20/10 rule

Many moons ago Sun introduced SunTOPS (Sun’s Talent Optimization System) for development planning. Included in the notes, sadly I no longer have a copy, was this intriguing diagram:

how people write development plans versus how people actually develop

I’ve since found what I believe to be the underlying research behind this, it’s the 70/20/10 model. There is a reference to it in the Princeton University Learning Process.

I’ve not found a reference to the idea that development plans usually turn this in its head – in other words, we incorrectly assume that development is 70% training, 20% learning from others, 10% job experience. If anyone knows where this came from please let me know.

According to Princeton:

70/20/10 learning concept was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership and is specifically mentioned in The Career Architect Development Planner 3rd edition by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger.

The seriously chunky and expensive The Career Architect Development Planner isn’t in my local library or searchable on-line. I’d love to take a peek 🙂

Update – 13th May 2013

Since writing that article I found a blog post Let’s kill a few learning holy cows – 70:20:10 is dead (or at least seriously ill) which states “If you examine the peer reviewed articles, there is not one single empirical study that validates 70:20:10”.

Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it’s just that there’s no supporting evidence.

Interesting, I wonder if this is a bit like Albert Mehrabian’s widely misrepresented “7%-38%-55% rule” – there’s a very specific case for which it’s true. Or is it largely true, but evasive in its supporting evidence?

NIS+ is now NIS-

As already blogged by Chris,

With the push of this feature into Solaris:

6874309 Remove NIS+ from Solaris
PSARC/2009/530 Removal of NIS+

a bit of Solaris history is made. The namespace that was to replace NIS (YP) has been survived by the system it was to replace.

My first day at Sun Microsystems in 1995 was the day I first touched NIS+ having geekily read and re-read the white papers prior to my joining. Chris was already service’s recognised NIS+ expert world-wide so I was in excellent company as tentatively typed my first niscat.

To witness its removal is eerie to the least. The irony is that I’m now the manager responsible for the team that just removed something that’s been been a golden thread running through my career at Sun for what is almost 15 years. I’ll raise a virtual glass to all the people who’ve worked on it and with it – cheers. As Chris said, “it was fun”.

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