Newsletter Archives

  • A quick status report on the Windows Secrets merge

    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

    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

    And the Windows Secrets merge continues…

  • See any malformed imported posts?

    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

    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

    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

    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”)

    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…

  • Woody’s Windows Watch: Let the Windows Secrets merge begin

    Yes, I know the AskWoody site is slow as Matterhorn molasses. Believe me, those of us who work behind the scenes feel your pain.

    There’s a reason why we’re on the slow track. The main merge has begun. With about 180,000 Topics (mostly posted questions) and about a million Replies (answers and discussions) there’s an enormous amount of data moving over. Hang in there. It’ll be worth the wait.

    In this column I talk about what you need to know in order to make the leap from Windows Secrets to AskWoody. The steps are easy — but you have to initiate them!

    Details in this week’s AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.14.0, out this morning to AskWoody Plus Members.

  • Update on the Windows Secrets merge

    We have more than 100,000 user accounts transferred from Windows Secrets to AskWoody. They’re in place right now and, by all appearances, working fine. For those of you looking for your WS account, check out the Windows Secrets landing page. Your old ID should be available here, with “WS” stuck on the front of it. For example, if you had the Windows Secrets account BillGates, it’ll be here as WSBillGates. We DIDN’T bring over passwords. You’ll have to reset your password before you can sign in to your WS account. See the landing page for details.

    (If you had the foresight to match up your email address on both sites, you’re already set – everything is being merged into your AskWoody account. Also, those of you who are still using an email address as your AskWoody username, I can switch you over but it’s going to take longer. There’s a reason why I’ve been warning you about it! Priority goes to helping folks get their Windows Secrets accounts shaken out.)

    At this moment we have about 20,000 Topics — questions, mostly – that are up and available on AskWoody. BUT… they’re only Topics, not the discussion/posts associated with the Topics (the posts are called “Replies” in bbPress). The Replies come later, after we have all of the Topics in place. There’s a ton of ’em — almost 1,000,000. It’s going to take a while.

    You may have noticed that the numbers in the Forum list, down at the bottom on the right side, are swelling. Those Topics are filling right up.

    If you’re signed up for notifications when there are changes to a Forum or Topic, hold your breath. We turned those off, temporarily, so you don’t get inundated with ancient relics.

    After the Topics and Replies are all merged, we still need to get the old Windows Secrets Newsletters set up. That’s going to take some custom work, so it won’t happen over night. (I hope we can handle Susan’s Patch Watch lists the same way.) I also have a customization ticket in to the devs to get Reply attachments working better.

    And then comes the indexing.

    We’ve hit a few minor problems, and the site’s been slow, but so far everything seems to be on track. There will be a big sweep of changes after that ol’ whale’s swallowed but for now, you should be able to use as usual.

    Remember: It’s gonna be a loooooooong weekend.

  • Swallowing a whale: The joys of integrating Windows Secrets Lounge into AskWoody

    Sometime in the next week-or-so we’ll be merging the Windows Secrets Lounge into the AskWoody Lounge.

    It’s a big project. Windows Secrets has more than a million posts, going back to the days when Brian and I started it. There are many hundreds of active users and more than 100,000 user accounts that are dormant. I think of it as swallowing a whale.

    Right now, we have some lingering problems on AskWoody — especially with roles and absorbing Windows Secrets Newsletter subscriptions — but we need to get the whale integrated before it goes down for the last time. The game is afoot.

    Windows Secrets Lounge residents aren’t going to like the new layout, they’re going to be disoriented for a while, and they’re going to look longingly at the grass on the greener, older side. I understand that and appreciate it. But at the same time, they won’t miss the weeks-long outages or unresponsiveness that they’ve come to expect.

    No matter what happens, Windows Secrets is disappearing — it was due to disappear on December 31, and it’s only up now because of the forbearance of the previous owners. It’s up to all of us to throw out the lifelines and save that legacy. It’s a noble, worthwhile goal.

    Please bear with me while we go through the transition. I’m getting remarkable help from @PKCano, @Kirsty, @Microfix, @Satrow, @Elly and dozens more. Hundreds of you are asking and answering tech questions, the heartbeat of this site. I’ve been manning the line because the problems at this point rarely have simple answers — forgive me for slow replies.

    But together we can get that whale swallowed and emerge with a stronger, greatly expanded tech site that’ll continue to help people for years to come.

    Thanks, everybody.