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Windows 7 AppData folder structure - Need to know how this is supposed to be set-up

Hi Experts,

I've just recently done a clean install of Win 7 on a new 1 TB drive and in the process of restoring files from a separate drive which hosts my XP installation and most of my files, I think I've screwed something up.

I've split the 1TB drive into 2 partitions (C & D) with WIn 7 on C:\ and my Documents, etc on D:\ with the idea of putting all of the files I need to back up routinely on the D:\ partition.  As I started getting more familiar with the Folder structure of Win 7, it occurred to me that I might want to also re-point the "Roaming" sub-folder under the c:\Users\username\AppData to a similarly named folder under the D:\ partition (This thought came to me because I noticed some of the Outlook infrastructure like the Outlook.NK2 file in that path and I thought it would be a good thing to back that up routinely, too).

So, I right-clicked the Properties of what I could have sworn was the "c:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming" sub-folder, and navigated to 'Move' the folder to the "d:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming" sub-folder (as I had done previously with the 'My Documents' folder, etc. (though on that and similar "top-level" folders in the Libraries, I think I actually created the destination folder first - I'm not sure if I did that for the Roaming folder or not ...).

Anyway, what I am seeing is now probably best understood by looking at the attached screenshots of the relevant portions of the C & D partitions.

C-Users-Jeff-s-Desktop-AppData.gif
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jeffreywsmith
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jeffreywsmith
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1 Solution
 
jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Sorry, when I hit enter to add the 1st screen shot, it entered the whole question before I was through.  Here is the 2nd screen shot ... and as can be seen, there is no "Roaming" folder listed here (though there is still one on the C partition ... even if the "contents" of it seem to be now located on D:\

If it's any clue, when I type %APPDATA% in the Run box, it opens Windows Explorer in the D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData folder ... and I think that's supposed to resolve to the "Roaming" sub-folder.

So, how do I put Jack back together again?

Thanks for any insights!

Jeff
D-Users-Jeff-s-Desktop-AppData.gif
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Hello Jeff,
I would move the application data back to its original location. Normally, you weren't even supposed to see it (You enabled view hidden files). It is not contemplated by Microsoft that you would need to move these folders. The applications need this data to function properly and Windows 7 is  too new for "testers" of minor hacks on how to do this or the other will be beneficial or more damaging than the benefit you want to obtain.
Please read the following attachment. You can move the rest of the visible files and folders but I would strongly discourage the moving of the AppData and other hidden folders.
 

Windows-7---Moving-My-Documents.pdf
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Hi BitsBytesandMore and thanks for posting.

I am presently away from the machine in question.  But I'll take your advice when I return.  After doing that, though, how do I 're-point' the %APPDATA% variable back to the "c:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming" sub-folder?

Thanks,

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
I understand your question about re-pointing the variable but I have no idea how you moved it in the first place....  and I would be reluctant to advise you to set an environment variable without having more info....... for all we know it will recreate itself.
This is what I mean when I posted above.... these folders were meant to be hidden...all is experimentation because it is so new, people don't really know what the consequences of moving this or that will be.
I don't want to mess up my test install trying to repeat your steps because I'm still working on a lot of other tests.....
Worst case scenario.... copy all your data to drive D and do a clean install (Unless you want to experiment a little).....
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
If I were you, you are in the perfect position to experiment on this subject. I noticed that you have other drives available so backing up your data should not be a problem.
Test, Experiment, Play and enjoy..... As I said before, reinstalling Windows 7 is fast and easy......
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Ok, when I get back to the machine in question, I'll try moving "the application data back to its original location", re-booting and hoping that W7 "will recreate itself" (i.e., the then populated Roaming sub-folder[or Junction if that is what it is more properly called] will then be returned when typing %APPDATA% in the Run box ... if that doesn't work, not sure where to go next ...

I already tried setting up a "Roaming" subfolder in d:\Users\username\AppData\, copying the apparenly previously 'orphaned' folders that were there (in my 2nd screen shot) to that new 'Roaming' folder, and typed in a CMD window:

Set %APPDATA% = d:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming  (thinking that might actually "Set" it)

... but when I then typed:

Set

... it still registered %APPDATA% as

d:\Users\username\AppData

Since that didn't work, I'm hoping your idea will work ... if not, I'm open to suggestions ... though it may seem I'm in a good position to experiment, this has not been an easy conversion because I had to start clean on a new hard drive ... and then migrate my files over from the old drive.  So, it's been a (painful) education from everything to getting Outlook to work again, to getting my old FireFox profile working, my RoboForm password profile recognized ... my Excel settings re-established ... not something I'd want to have to repeat if I can avoid it.

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Hey .... LOL.... Hold on ..... it was a figure of speech...... As I mentioned above, I have no idea how you actually moved it in the first place.....
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Ok - I tried moving "the application data back to its original location", re-booting and hoping that W7 would "recreate itself" (i.e., the then populated Roaming sub-folder [or Junction if that is what it is more properly called] would then be returned when typing %APPDATA% in the Run box ... However, that did not work.

After backing it  up, I've done a search through the Registry, manually inspecting and replacing all instances of "D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData" (with a string that pointed to "C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData") ... except for those found in this key:

HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-3480145591-4261609091-3715277197-1000\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Catalog

... that referred to my 3 Outlook *.pst (& Archive) files (which I had manually pointed to these files via Outlook's File | Data File Management).

These "Outlook links referred to:

"D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming\Local\Microsoft\Outlook"

However, when I  type %APPDATA% in the Run box, it still returns the :D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData" location instead of the "C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming" that I am trying to restore.

I am going to reboot and hope ... but not really expecting this to be fixed.

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
I understand..... have you tried right clicking on my computer and going into "Properties"  then  "Advanced  System Settings" on the left bar. Once it opens go to the Advanced TAB and click (at the bottom) on Environment Variables to see if it allows you to edit any wrong setting.....
It should look something like the screenshot below ... you should be able to correct or test "adding" a new "System Variable" for the %APPDATA%.... Make sure you look at all first in case you can modify an existing one....
 

Capture.JPG
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Another idea.... have you tried creating a new user and moving your data from your existing profile to your new user?
 
Bits....
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Well, interestingly, after a reboot, typing %APPDATA% in the cmd window (sorry, I was calling it the "Run box" before (but is accessed by typing cmd in the Run box, then %APPDATA% at the DOS prompt) now returns:

C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData   ... not the:
C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming   ... that I was hoping for ...

... but at least something I did got it to move back to the C:\ partition instead of the D:\ partition.

I'm still lost here ... I have seen elsewhere that  typing %APPDATA% in the cmd Window is supposed to return:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming

Is this correct?  If so, how do I get this "Roaming" folder to be included?

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Did you check the Environment variables above?
On my system if I type %APPDATA% I don't get anything but an error and it is because I don't have it SET...... You must have set an environment variable.... Go to the screen above and if you see it... remove it...
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Hi Bits:

>  you should be able to correct or test "adding" a new "System Variable" for the %APPDATA%

First, given that I've had some partial success as reported above, are you recommending I try this now anyway?

Second, should I be trying to add this to the upper portion of the Advanced Properties window ("User variables for Jeff's Desktop") rather than the lower portion for "System Variables" ?

Jeff
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
> Another idea.... have you tried creating a new user and moving your data from your existing profile to your new user?

No, I haven't done that ... expect it might be nearly as much work as creating the first one ... surely there has to be a way to make this appdata variable stick ...

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
"....are you recommending I try this now anyway? ..." Yes.... it should not be there unless you need it for something....
On the other hand, making a new user takes less than a minute.... Go to Control Panel and select User Accounts... and create one.....
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
I might have not been clear above.... I was trying to say "TEST" to force the system to go where you wanted to (in case the variable was not set).
But, after checking on my system and noticing that the variable is not to be seen anywhere, I'm realizing that you probably SET the Variable and this is why it is not correcting the move automatically.
Do you follow me?
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
If it's any clue, now, clicking on Start | Excel 2007, I am getting the following error:

'C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Microsoft\AddIns\myaddin.xlam' ciould not be found ...

However, that add-in file does exist here:

C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\AddIns

So, how do I make this happen?
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Ok, Just found another post elsewhere that advises changing the "Appdata" registry key under the following node:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

Am doing that now and re-booting.  Fingers crossed.

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
You are going to have similar problems with all applications until you correct this.
Honestly.... since you enabled and forcibly moved the folders that were supposed to be hidden, which seems to be the cause of all these unintended consequences..... the fastest and less problematic solution (you don't know what other problems might surface down the road)..... Create a new user. Windows 7 will configure everything by default to this new user. Problem over.
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
I would not do this in the registry since it will affect "ALL USERS"...
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Ok,

That last registry change did NOT fix the issue ...

> I might have not been clear above.... I was trying to say "TEST" to force the system to go where you wanted to (in case the variable was not set).

> But, after checking on my system and noticing that the variable is not to be seen anywhere, I'm realizing that you probably SET the Variable and this is why it is not correcting the move automatically.

> Do you follow me?

... Uhh, no. Well, yes, I'm following what you said but I am not seeing what I need to do ... In particular, can you address:  "Second, should I be trying to add this to the upper portion of the Advanced Properties window ("User variables for Jeff's Desktop") rather than the lower portion for "System Variables" ?

> On the other hand, making a new user takes less than a minute.... Go to Control Panel and select User Accounts... and create one.....

Well, I know the creation of a new user is easily done ... but getting all of my files and settings moved is the larger issue here ... and definitely something I want to avoid if possible.

Jeff


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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
You should be trying to remove it from the User variables if it is showing up there.
You should also be trying to remove it if it shows up in the system variables.
I double checked: There is no "Default" entry in the Environment Variables (both user and system) for %APPDATA%. In other words, if it is showing up, it should not be there. This is what I want you to check.
Also, make sure you "REVERT" any change you made manually to the registry and leave it the way it was "Originally".
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
> You should be trying to remove it from the User variables if it is showing up there. You should also be trying to remove it if it shows up in the system variables. I double checked: There is no "Default" entry in the Environment Variables (both user and system) for %APPDATA%. In other words, if it is showing up, it should not be there. This is what I want you to check.

> It is not showing up there at all.

> Also, make sure you "REVERT" any change you made manually to the registry and leave it the way it was "Originally".

The only way I can do this is to Restore from the Registry backup I did before making the changes ... but doing that would take me all the way back to where the D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData is returned as the appdata variable, correct?  Which doesn't seem to fix the issue ... unless by "Originally" you mean restoring back to an earlier Restore point (before I created this problem ...).  IF that's what you meant in doing so, is the only thing I would lose be whatever programs I may have installed since then would need to be reinstalled?

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
What I meant is the change you just made. This is why I said that I would NOT recommend that you "tinker" with the registry just because some "Post" out there tells you to do it.
Normally, when you are about to make a registry change, the standard procedure is to make a backup of the registry keys or entries that you are changing or even go as far as to create a restore point (depending on how knowledgeable or comfortable you are reverting changes)...... if he did not recommend this before advising you to make a change he posted irresponsibly.....
And to answer you last question, YES.... you can go back (if you have the restore point) to "Originally" (before the problem) and you would just lose any settings of any programs installed after this restore point. The files of the programs would be there but the registry would not know how to use them because they are not installed so you would need to reinstall these programs. By definition a System Restore does not delete any data although I always do and recommend that you backup the data.... you never know if the system will crash.
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Ok, I've restored back to an earlier point ... and now %APPDATA% returns:

C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming  ... as I believe it should, correct?

However, after re-installing MS Outlook & using it's Data File Management menu item, I directed OL to use the folder:

D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

... as it contains my Outlook *.pst files.  

I think this path might be a residual affect of my setting up Outlook when my "APPDATA" setting was trashed. Shouldn't they be located here (in a normal, default install?:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook  ...?

And therefore if I want to 'mirror' the default pst file location from the C:\ partition to a similar path on my D:\ partition, I should move the pst files to this location:

D:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook  ... and leave the 'Roaming' out of it, correct?

Other than this last question, I think I'm back in business and just need to re-install a few programs loaded since my Restore point.

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
jeffrey, you are aware that you can (and should) create a folder inside "My Documents" and call it Outlook and throw your pst file there a just tell Outlook to look for it there..... this way, when you backup "My Documents" , you are also backing up your Outlook's pst file.
Bits..
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
> you are aware that you can (and should) create a folder inside "My Documents" and call it Outlook and throw your pst file there a just tell Outlook to look for it there.

Yes, I am intent on doing something like that but intend instead to back up my D:\ partition, including my now relocated 'Special folders' (My Documents, etc.) as well as the Outlook pst files to another hard drive (E:\) once I get all my ducks in a row.  But I'd prefer to keep the folder structure on the D:\ partition 'mirrored' with the names\path that the default location would have provided on the C:\ partition. To that end, can you verify that the default pst file location for Windows 7 is:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook  ...?

And that "C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming"  ... is the default "APPDATA" folder path?

Thanks,

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
It normally should be ..... I'm using the Technet's Enterprise version and it changed the location by default to inside of My Documents\Outlook ..... This is something new that I noticed a few weeks ago and I don't know if someone prepared an Admin Install and changed this from the default location that you are pointing above which seems to be right or if it is the Enterprise Edition of 2007 that is doing it by default.
I'm more inclined to believe that someone here changed it when the prepared the admin install (I don't think that Microsoft would have changed it to such a "reasonable location" by default)......
In this link below they same to confirm that the default location would be:
C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook
http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/11/24/how-to-find-and-locate-outlook-personal-folders-pst-files-folder-location/
 
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
I noticed that my previously working OL Reminders window was not popping up ... did a little research and ended up doing Start | Run | outlook.exe /cleanreminders and when that didn't restore them, I tried outlook.exe /cleanviews  but that didn't work either.  Since then I've had 2 reminders pop-up but that's it ... the way I use Outlook, I probably had a couple of hundred reminders  that were active ... I'm guessing I will have to wait until they regenerate (if they were recurring reminders?  Are all of the non-recurring reminders gone now?  Don't know if this is any relation to this thread or not but thought I'd mention it ...

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Jeff....  We are sidetracking from the main issue.
Once you enable and move the hidden folders, modify the environment variable of the %APPDATA% and modify the registry, I would not be surprised with any unexplained error.
The solution to this is to revert the change by way of the restore point created before you started making the changes.
The create a new user account which would have been a solution since it would have recreated the original Windows 7 default settings on any new account is now off the table since we will never know the impact of the change made in the registry on creating a new user account.
With so many variables compounding on each other, even if we had the most precise step by step technical manual and proceeded by the book on every detail on how to correct the move of the hidden folders and the change of the %APPDATA% environment variable the issue of the registry modification would still remain.
At some point, the system might appear to be working fine, nevertheless, in my opinion, it is unreliable and it most likely will come back sooner or  later to haunt you with errors that have no explanation and/or with corrupt files.
You now have 2 choices: 1. Do a system restore with the backup you said you had made before this started or 2. Reinstall Windows 7.
Any other option is in this current scenario, is unreliable and not a good foundation to build on.
I hope I was able to assist you on this.
Bits...
 
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Bits,

I'm a little confused - I posted at 5:33 pm that: "Ok, I've restored back to an earlier point ... and now %APPDATA% returns:

C:\Users\Jeff's Desktop\AppData\Roaming  ... as I believe it should, correct?"

So I already took the option 1 you listed above (This was the Restore point that was "... created before (I) started making the changes").  So, I guess I'm saying that I think our business here is done but that said, I don't know what happened to my Reminders ... there's still only 2 of them showing now so I reported that anomaly, too (in case it was possibly related).

And yes, you were able to assist, thanks!

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Jeff, I'm sorry, I missed the line altogether when you posted "....I've restored back to an earlier point ... " 
Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it.
As for your Outlook, I am attaching a pdf with all of the command line switches that are available for Outlook 2007..... (Honestly....it don't think this is an Outlook issue but rather the result of it not finding something it needs as a result of "the move")....
If you would like to continue troubleshooting Outlook which is a different question but 100% related (in my opinion you are building on quicksand) click right below where you "Post a Comment" on where it says "ask a related question" ...... this way anyone who sees the question can see the underlying circumstances as well.......
Bits...

Command-line-switches-for-Micros.pdf
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
Related question asked at:

 http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/Windows_7/Q_25027814.html#a26202217  

(Title:  Post Migration Assistance with Outlook 2007 and Folder Junctions after move from XP to Windows 7)

Bits, I'm not sure why you are indicating: "in my opinion you are building on quicksand" ... since I restored back to an earlier Restore point, why should this be "building on quicksand"?

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Jeff ..... after you applied the Restore Point you made this comment:
 ".....I think this path might be a residual affect of my setting up Outlook when my "APPDATA" setting was trashed....".
You might be on the right track and be having some residual effects that the restore point did not correct. If this is the case, it creates uncertainty regarding the system being stable or acting up unexpectedly in the future......
I usually like to trust my systems. I want them "Rock Solid". If anything is creating any degree of uncertainty, I can't count on them.
I do support and maintenance plans for small companies in Florida. I want to be able to have my weekends off and to be able to take vacations. I cannot do this if I don't trust the computers I support ..... they are going to fail when I least expect it and create a bigger problem.
This is what I meant when I posted my opinion about "..building on quicksand..".... The foundation is not strong anymore and any unexpected and maybe unsolvable error can come up at any moment.
This makes the machine unreliable to me. Now, this said, this is just my humble opinion, for all we know it could work for years without giving you the slightest hiccup....
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jeffreywsmithAuthor Commented:
I take your point, Bits.  

So, if I can't get my Outlook reminders working again ... or have 'other issues' develop (soon, before my backups are too stale to use), would there be any advantage to doing a Windows 7 re-install ... over setting up a new User profile and migrating stuff to that ... if necessary>

Jeff
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
Migrating is not the name to normally used to refer to this. Migrating is a term used normally when you move up to another operating system.
In your case, you should take your USER folder, probably named Jeff, and Backup (not migrate) everything contained in it.
Then you reinstall Windows 7 clean.
After this...you RESTORE all the data in the backup to the Jeff folder again. This is it.
If you have an external drive it is very easy: go to your C: drive. Then double click on Users. You will see all the Users of the computer (in your case you will see a folder called Jeff). Right click on it and select copy.
Then go to whatever drive letter your external drive has been assigned (usually E: or F: or even G:) and right click on it and select paste.... This will copy the Jeff folder to you backup drive. (I would manually copy the outlook.pst file to a folder inside My Documents called Outlook just to make sure that you do not leave it behind in your D drive because of all that has been going on)...
That it Jeff... this should solve any doubts that you have regarding this thread... I'm trying to avoid sidetracking on this thread.
 
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