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  • A quick status report on the Windows Secrets merge

    Posted on May 16th, 2019 at 06:00 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’ve officially finished merging posts that were in You should be able to find most (although, regrettably, not all) of them here. I’ve bumped our server allocation up by a factor of two or more, so the site should be quite spritely.

    ProTip: For now, you’ll find it much faster to search the site using Google; just put at the end of your search string. Yep, we’re working on it.

    For those of you with usernames brought over from Windows Secrets (they’re prefixed with “WS” as in “WSBillG”) and regular AskWoody account names, I can start merging your accounts. There’s no inherent advantage to having an account with or without the “WS.” But those of you with two active accounts may want to pull all your posts into one account, to make it easier to keep track of things. If you want to merge two (or more) accounts, from any source, please email me (, and tell me the usernames on the accounts.

    If you have a username that’s an email address, make sure the old email address account is the one that’s going to get obliterated in the merge. We’re still trying to stomp out usernames that are email addresses — for your privacy, if nothing else.

    Your MVPs have been hard at work making lots of changes, some of which you’ll see, many of which are behind the scenes. For example, you can now upload files attached to your posts (“Replies”) as long as they’re under 2 MB. Most filetypes are supported. All of them are scanned for malware.

    We’re also working on bringing over all of the old Windows Secrets Newsletters, and making them more easily available. Susan’s cooking up a new downloadable format for the Patch Watch lists. We’re going to try to tie together the Newsletter and Lounge efforts more tightly. Lots and lots of things.

    I’m going to wait a bit — let the changes stabilize — before tackling the next big effort: Redesigning the site. I really want to create a forum navigation pane that’s as good as the old Windows Secrets vBulletin-based listing. But it’s going to take time. When we’re ready to kick that effort off, I’ll let you know.

    I also plan to reinstate the free newsletters, which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

    Thanks, everybody. MVPs have helped enormously, and keep the site working. Plus members are footing the bill. We aren’t quite up to being financially stable, but that will come. And each of you reading, posting, asking and helping, are making it work.

    If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.

  • The Windows Secrets merge is officially over

    Posted on May 14th, 2019 at 10:35 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re still nipping at a few problems, but it looks like we survived swallowing the whale. We have more than a million posts on AskWoody now, going back to December 2000. With some notable exceptions, anything that was posted on Windows Secrets (and didn’t disappear during a site outage) should now appear here on AskWoody.

    We still have a long way to go. More about that soon.

    Thanks a whole lot to everybody involved — from the devs who pulled it off, to the AskWoody MVPs of various stripes, to the Windows Secrets admins and mods and MVPs who kept it all going for so many years. Thanks, too, to the support staff at Informa, who helped us in numerous ways.

    Let me know if you encounter any problems.

  • We just went over 1,000,000 posts

    Posted on May 12th, 2019 at 14:04 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    And the Windows Secrets merge continues…

  • See any malformed imported posts?

    Posted on May 9th, 2019 at 10:24 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re close to 1,000,000 posts. Although we have hundreds of thousands more to come, I’d like to start getting the ones we have cleaned up.

    Some of the posts we brought in from Windows Secrets are very hard to read on AskWoody. The problem lies in the way some formatting codes in vBulletin don’t work right in bbPress. Here’s an example of a horrendously disfigured post:


    If you bump into a malformed post, could you let us know in the Comments? All we need is the post number — the number in the upper right corner that’s preceded by a #. In this case, the bad post is #497684.

    We’ll be looking to identify patterns, so we can clean up swathes of the malformed posts in one swell foop.


    P.S. I’ve already picked up all 450+ posts from Kathleen that mention the Top Story.

  • Advice for first-time posters on AskWoody

    Posted on May 6th, 2019 at 07:52 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re seeing a lot of first-time posters on AskWoody. That’s great! Just realize that there are rules we all follow about content and continuity. You can browse and post anonymously — without logging in — if you like, but it’ll take longer for your post to appear. Each anonymous post is vetted manually.

    Everyone who subscribes to the AskWoody Plus Newsletter already has an AskWoody account, but subscribers should make sure that the account user name is not your email address. If you try to post using an account name that’s an email address, we’ll protect you from yourself.

    If you lack a “proper” AskWoody account, getting things switched around is easy. Just email me at

  • Quick update on swallowing the whale

    Posted on April 22nd, 2019 at 12:30 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’ve already merged about a quarter of a million Replies (posts) from the Windows Secrets Lounge to the AskWoody Lounge. My guess is that the mammoth job will be done this week. We’ve goosed the server and more than doubled nearly tripled the merge rate, while keeping response times here pretty reasonable. Apologies to those of you who spent an inordinate amount of time getting around the site over the weekend.

    What’s next? Good question.

    As soon as all of the Replies are merged, we’ll start the job of consolidating the old Windows Secrets “WS”-prefixed accounts with existing AskWoody accounts. I’ll put out a call for those with dual citizenship as soon as we’re braced.

    We’ll also be looking for lost or misplaced Topics (questions, usually). There are many, and we’ll have to manually bring them across.

    And we’re going to be re-organizing the forums. They were set up for the old AskWoody — emphasis on “What Microsoft screwed up, and how to protect yourself” — and need to be more in line with our expanding “tech help” charter.

    Folks signing up for new accounts and anonymous posters will see an “I am not a robot” challenge in the near future. Why? We’re manually weeding out 100 or more new spamming/bot accounts every day. And we’re fielding more and more attempts at direct upload of malicious scripts through anonymous posts. It’s a jungle out there. (UPDATE: That feature’s now working.)

    Afterwards there’s a laundry list of improvements coming. As we get ready for the big ones – such as redesigning the site, improving the Replies editor, separating out “free” and “Plus” content, reinstating the old Free newsletters – I’ll put out a call for your input.

    In the interim, you can use your existing AskWoody account, or your old WS account — either or both — and there shouldn’t be any conflicts, either now or in the future. (See the Windows Secrets Landing Page for details.) Not all of your Replies are melded into AskWoody yet, but almost all of the Topics should be here already.

    Don’t forget that, if you log on with an email address, you need to get switched over to a “proper” AskWoody account. You can’t do it yourself — the old cruft has to be nuked from orbit. Send me mail,

    As we wait for the merge to complete, I want to extend my thanks once again to all of the people who kept Windows Secrets alive for so long. You’ll see many of them right here, every day. I also want to say “many thanks” to the people at Informa/KNect365 (formerly Penton) who helped us move. Moving a million-post web site isn’t easy, and we’ve had tremendous support from the staff at KNect365.

    I also want to thank each of you Plus members for making this possible. I really do believe there’s still a place in the industry for volunteer-based, truly independent tech help, open to everybody. Your donations keep it all going.

  • The Windows Secrets redirect is in place

    Posted on April 17th, 2019 at 16:55 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’ve moved over all of the Windows Secrets users, adding “WS” to the front of their usernames.

    We’ve brought across all 150,000-or-so Topics (mostly questions)

    And we’re rapidly filling in all of the posts (“Replies”)

    Attempts to visit now redirects to our Windows Secrets Landing page.

    We’re almost there, folks.

  • The Topic merge is complete, now on to the general posts (“Replies”)

    Posted on April 17th, 2019 at 09:22 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’ve hit 163,500 Topics. That’s one whole heckuvalot of questions.

    Next stop: The answers to the Topics (bbPress calls them “Replies”). No idea how long it’ll take to bring them over, but I’ll keep you posted. Once the Topics are done we have some important work ahead — bringing over the old Newsletters, expanding the types of files that can be safely posted — and all sorts of tweaks and twerks to the site, but we’ll have the hard work behind us.

    In the interim, feel free to post on any of the Topics you see here (look at the list on the lower right side). Your posts (“Replies”) will carry through the transition. You can create new Topics (ask new questions), too. Don’t be bashful. Just make sure you’re using an AskWoody account that doesn’t look like an email address. And if you had a Windows Secrets account, make sure you read the Windows Secrets Landing page for important information on how to retrieve your old account. It’s here, but with a different name.

    We aren’t yet ready to merge Windows Secrets accounts with AskWoody accounts. That’ll happen after all the Replies are in place. Baby and bathwater and all. Patience.

    The converted Windows Secrets accounts — the ones with “WS” on the front — will be good for all eternity. If you’re OK with your WS account, I’m OK with it, too. As long as it isn’t your email address. 🙂

    For those of you who have written to me at : Sorry I’m slow getting back to you, but I’ve been positively hammered. Don’t worry. I’ll get you covered.

    Back to work…