IAF File Format Specification And Field ID Assignment Table

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IAF is a file format used for importing and exporting account information in Microsoft Outlook Express 6, Microsoft Windows Mail (Windows Vista), Microsoft Windows Live Mail and older versions of Microsoft Outlook. It can be decoded by code already available on the Internet. Here are a few links to the decoder code:

The above code works just fine however it has a problem – a good number of IAF fields are not recognized, especially for Windows Live Mail IAF file format. So here is my update on this topic and most up to date list of fields I could come up with. Also, this post contains a bit of documentation on IAF file format because I found that it is rather hard to find online and Microsoft never revealed IAF file format specification (to my knowledge – correct me if I am wrong).

Essentially, IAF comes in 2 flavors:

  • WideChar version (16-bit characters – UTF-16LE format), used by Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail
  • NarrowChar version (8-bit characters, encoded in specific charset encoding – usually the same like OS charset) used by Outlook Express 6 and older Microsoft Outlook

For NarrowChar version assignment of Field IDs is more or less known and available in the decoder code above. However, for the WideChar version, not all fields are recognized.

The above code contains a list of Field IDs with their names and assignment. The purpose of this post is to complement that list with some additional Field IDs and offer additional explanation of how the fields are organized – which can help in further reverse engineering of the IAF file format.

From what I could discover, it appears that the Field IDs are 9-digit numbers organized into sections which begin with certain 3-digit number which I will call “sections”. Between the Field IDs there are gaps, probably left intentionally for future upgrades to the file format without breaking the old format. The Field ID ranges are organized as following:

  • 305-306 – General settings section
  • 311-314 – IMAP settings section
  • 321-323 – HTTP settings section
  • 325-326 – NNTP settings section
  • 331-332 – POP3 settings section
  • 338-339 – SMTP settings section

The numbers above represent only the first 3 digits of a 9-digit Field ID, so for example, a full Field ID might be:

305464304 – belongs to “General settings” section and is Field ID for AccountName.
311952368 – belongs to “IMAP settings” section and is Field ID for IMAPServer.

The bold part of the Field ID number above represents the number from the above section range. This is similar for all other fields as defined in the list.

So, as promised above – here is full list of the Field IDs, including the ones missing from the above decoder code. You will notice that some fields are still unknown.

Unknown fields have an “UNKNOWN” in the comment and are prefixed by “GENERAL-“, “IMAP-“, “HTTP-“, and “NNTP-“. As it seems, there are no unknown fields in the POP3 and SMTP sections that I have discovered so far.

If you know what the UNKNOWN fields are used for or if you have additional ones to complement this list, please do leave a comment below this post to help in reverse engineering of the IAF file format so that a fully featured decoder can be written at last. I will of course update this post with the latest up-to-date table and share it with everyone.

The list is public domain and you are free to use in your code, for any purposes, commercial or any other (I would be happy if you notify me about it, but this is not needed).

You can also decode your own IAF files (for example, if you want to extract forgotten password) with the online decoder found here:
https://www.oeclassic.com/iaf-decoder

How to clean up your Inbox

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New email keeps on coming every day. You carefully read it, file it, archive it, move it to various folders, reply to it, but it just keeps on coming. Forgetting to file one email often means leaving it “for later” and that later never really comes. Time passes and you end up accumulating tons of messages in your Inbox. And you never seem to reach your “Inbox Zero” nirvana. Does this sound familiar?

“Inbox Zero” is actually a great idea but for many, it is hard to achieve, due to just one simple thing – lack of simple habit of cleaning up.

So here are 5 ideas how to clean up your email to eventually reach empty Inbox.

1) Each day, set aside a minute or two to clean up 5-10 emails which are not needed and can be deleted. The key here is to develop a habit. It does not take much time to clean up 5-10 emails. To file them to proper folders or to simply delete them. It may seem overwhelming to see tons of messages in the Inbox and quickly give up, but the fact is that the more you clean it up, the less there will be and with time, just as they accumulated, they will be cleaned up. If you don’t know where to start – start with the oldest ones. They are most likely best candidates to be deleted.

2) Speaking of delete – do not be afraid to use delete. It might seem a good idea to file everything, archive into special folders and so on, but some things are simply not worth keeping. Do not attempt to be perfect, as that will not get you nowhere. Do you file every conversation you had with every person (in real life that is)? Of course not. So why do it with email? Many messages are simply not worth keeping once they have been read.

3) Use the rule – if it is older than 2 years, it will likely never be read again and can be deleted.

4) If you replied to it and there is nothing there to keep, delete it immediately.

5) If you really have to keep some messages, then at least remove them from Inbox. Move them to “Archive” folder or something of that sort. Leaving Inbox empty will remove visual clutter and will give you some sense of accomplishment at the end of a day.

Everyone will have to become an entrepreneur

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I have some good and some bad news. Bad news first – job security is gone today’s world. Take a look at the amount of protests around the world where the usual story is something like “I’ve worked for this company for 30 years, but now I have no future because they fired me!”. The good news is – once you get past that you will quickly discover you will have more control over your life if you choose to accept that becoming an entrepreneur is the road you should take.

It wasn’t comfortable for me to become an entrepreneur – it was a hard and long process. The idea of having a job security (whatever that means) haunted me for a long time. I had millions of fears – from increased taxing to idea of having employes which would take a part of my hard earned cash. Everything seemed intimidating, from accounting to other smaller responsibilities. Fear was the big factor blocking me to take action.

But you know what, after a good decade of actually being an entrepreneur I can safely say it was one of the most gratifying decisions I’ve made and I wouldn’t go back for any price. Once you just choose to ignore the fear of the unknown and step into it, after a while all the intimidating things quickly become a routine and as such they no longer present a threat. It’s all in your head right? It takes a while to adjust to it, but after that it becomes so much easier. The feeling of having more control over your life is also really rewarding.

If you have a fear blocking you – remember this – the easiest way to get past fear is to simply do whatever you fear from. Just take the step. Plunge into it. You will learn things along the way, but do make the first step.

If you are not an entrepreneur yet, take a look at this picture and take a while to think about it.

I surely agree with it – what about your opinion?

This interesting infographic shows how the world, once again is changing.
This interesting infographic shows how the world, once again is changing.

The Big business myth – Is bigger always better?

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What is it with us that we are so easily impressed by the size of company someone runs? Perhaps it scares the heck of us that a company of that size is managed by a guy/gal we know. It is one of the common myths in business to size up the company by the number of employees working for it. Bigger is better and more impressive.

If you have a conversation with someone and he/she asks you: How big is your company?
Your reply might be: I have over 100 employees.
The response you would get might be – Wow, nice!
You received a form of compliment.

If, instead, you answer – I have 2 employees.
The reply might be different – Oh, that’s nice.
Just said to be polite. Not impressive at all.

However, in reality the bigger is not always better. Sure, there are cases where it really is. But it also creates unnecessary drag. For this reason alone, quite often, big companies would prefer to be smaller. Does your small company strive to get bigger for wrong reasons?

There is another thing with big companies – quite often they are disconnected from their end users and don’t entirely understand their needs.

I have example related to this in our own company – we’ve been making income just from using disadvantages of Microsoft (and a few other companies) products and filling the needs of real users in our software like yDecode and OE Classic. The thing is that the gaps we’ve been filling with our software had existed for decades and nobody in large companies ever took notice. Fixing the gap in their software would require maybe 50 lines of code – if they could notice it, that is.

That is the difference in agility of a small vs. large company. Think of small company as a small motor boat while big company could be a large cruiser. Obviously each one is better for their purposes.

What I propose here is neither of those two. The idea of perfect sized company doing work the most efficient way possible is my idea of a perfect business. Find the right size for you and stay that way. Maybe it is 5 employees, maybe it is 250 and maybe it is outsourcing the whole thing without any regular employees. It’s your choice to determine which size is perfect for your company.

So next time if someone asks you how many employees you have – be proud with your answer and don’t care about their reply. After all, you do have a business and you took responsibility of your life by running it. You’ll miss the simplicity of doing business you have now, when your business becomes big. Or even better, find the perfect size for your company and stay that way.