Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why doesn't it work?

I love Windows. I'll make no attempt to hide it, I am a Windows user, through-and-through, now and forever. I've used Windows since I started, and though I've used both MacOS and Linux extensively, at the end of the day, it's all about windows. Windows' match of simplicity and power just cannot be beat, and it's status as the majority platform of choice means the availability of software is unparalleled.

Some days, however, I work with Windows, and just wonder. Today has been one of those days. Today, I installed Windows 7.

The poor design started before the installation began. I owned a copy of Vista Ultimate. I like Ultimate, but this time, my financial situation is a bit different, and Professional made a bit more sense to me when it came to buying Windows 7. So, I bought an upgrade, and popped the disk in. It let me go about halfway through the pre-upgrade process before saying "Hey wait a minute. This is Ultimate. You can't upgrade from Ultimate to Professional!". There are two failures here:

  1. The most obvious one: while I realize the upgrade may change a few things in the system, I SHOULD be able to go from Ultimate to Professional. It should NOT be an issue. Come on guys, this just gives undo credit to all the critics who hate the diverse product offering.
  2. That non-withstanding - why did you allow me to waste a good 15 minutes in pre-update before telling me this?

Ultimately, I am forced to re-built from scratch, leaving me with a lot more work than I'd like. So I begin this process, after booting down my loyal Windows Vista install with a respectful salute, and the install goes smoothly till I hit the verification stage. I had printed my key out beforehand and proceed to type it in.


Ok, well, I've probably mis-typed it, let's go again....

Fail more time....


Ok......I compared the two.....They were identical! Crap. Something's wrong. After an hour of frantic digging, I finally found my original email only to find that the key I'd printed was in fact....the key for my beta copy! My bad. Ok...type it in and.....its good! Phew. Lesson learned: Activation still sucks. I'm not sure how this can be solved, but I'd sure as heck like it to be.

Now, finally, I boot up. No video or sound drivers are loaded, so I'm not gonna get much here. I pop in my bootcamp cd, which after several errors and warning messages about incompatibilities, finishes the install. I restart, and proceed to Windows update to get some video/audio drivers, and restart. Ok. Now - I realize Microsoft can't really address this problem. My hardware is not a "typical example" (being Apple), and Microsoft doesn't control the hardware platform like another fruit company I know, so cute startup videos are probably a non-starter, but I'd like to see a setup wizard that does a windows update routine before showing the user the desktop. Just seems better to me.

Next up, the Audio driver isn't working. Turns out this is because Apple has stopped releasing fixes for their 10.5 line of bootcamp installers, and if I want the latest bootcamp stuff, I've got to buy Snow Leopard. No thanks. This serves as a great demonstration of the difference between Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft ALLOWS others to break their software. With Apple, everything is so tightly controlled that the only one who ever breaks Apple's software is Apple themselves. They achieve this by creating very heavily regulated API's, tightly monitoring distribution, and making the development options so heavily pattern-oriented that nobody can get any serious coding in it except for Apple. It's REALLY easy to have a streamlined UE if you control all the hardware and software. When it came time to be on equal footing with everyone else in the real software world - Apple's product turns out to be no better than anyone else's - buggy and rough at the edges.

Microsoft stands to improve their situation here. A few more standards and a bit tighter control would annoy a lot of software guys out there, but probably work out better in the long run. Sure, eliminating/emulating the ActiveX framework would piss some people off, but it would probably be better in the long run. Microsoft needs to learn that they have to stop catering so much to the archivists - those who need to run 20 year old software. They are too small a market sector to keep supporting, especially at such a large cost to the majority of users. Vista was actually a step in this direction, and a good one - for which it got loads of undeserved bad press. The driver model FINALLY changed, security was finally taken seriously, the UE was updated....lots of better ideas. But Microsoft has a long way to go.....

Anyways - Windows 7 is finally working for me (though my Mac's CD reader isn't cooperating at the moment - again...dumb Apple machine), and I'm writing this from my new OS. The hard part is over, and now I get to enjoy my lovely windows again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update: Google Voice Rules

They did it! Google Voice is now impressive, featuring integrated Google contacts, transcribed (impressive!) voice-mail in my in-box, SMS, greeting selection by contact, etc...all-in-all, a GREAT product, and one I am using extensively now. In fact, if you like, you can ask me more about it by clicking the call me link on this blog page! UPDATE: And they bought Gizmo! PLEASE do something cool with this, QUICKLY!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Geocities is closing

A sad day this is for the internet. The original host-your-own super shitty site, the host of the original hamsterdance, and the butt of oh-so-many jokes - Yahoo's Geocities hosting community, is closing it's doors on October 26th, 2009.

I, like so many others, got my start on Geocities. And while my original website is long gone, I still have content there (don't go looking for it please - it only has a 4 mb/hour bandwidth limit)...which I had forgotten about for nearly ten years.

TEN YEARS! That's a long time when it comes to the internet. How many of you can remember the web ten years ago. It was a totally different ballgame back then, wasn't it?

I remember the days of Yahoo's first portal (which amazingly, wasn't any less stupid than their current one), the excite search engine, pages with embedded wav files, horrible, table based webdesign - that wasn't so much design as 'how many cute clipart pictures can we add to a site'. I remember frontpage 2000, the early versions of dreamweaver....

Look how far we have come!

Geocities was the first, and now it is no more. It is a sad day for the internet, and the end of a historic era.

R.I.P. Geocities
December 15, 1995 - October 26, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bil Conference

Check out the Bil Conference....I will be there!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Really? Why?

I don't even have to write about that. That is a self-explanitory fail.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Grand Central + Google = ???

So Google bought Grand Central. A long time ago in fact. Cool.

Why, then, have they yet to do anything cool with it?

They seem to be missing everything, like contact book synchronization, spam filter usage, google account integration...but by far the greatest miss yet by google is something that the world would be screaming to have: voicemail in your email inbox.

Think about it. Google + GrandCentral = Voicemail in your Gmail box. How awesome would that be? Simply go to gmail, and, if someone sends you a phone message, you click it, the line then triples in size to reveal a player control, and plays your message. If you are viewing the thing with Gmail mobile, a different thing happens. Voicemail messages are not necessarily included in the POP/IMAP feeds, but if they are, they are included as a regular old email message with the phone number without an email address set as the sender, and basically have a standard template of text with the mp3/ogg vorbis (one can dream) file set as an attachment, and maybe an ActiveX/Flash/embed player set in the page so that intelligent email clients could play it. Apple could make an updated firmware that would allow it to integrate with the phone on the iPhone (Apple will actually listen to Google I suspect - at least they will if they are smart).

So how has Google missed this? These guys are smart? With all the crazy buzz that Apple's visual voicemail has gotten I cannot imagine that they have failed to see this! This would beat visual voicemail by a mile. This MUST be the only reason they haven't - because of Apple. Maybe they have some deal which precludes doing this.

Google - if you are reading this - I'd really love to know why this hasn't been done...and believe me, if it isn't good, there will be another post on this blog which declares you all idiots. 'We didn't think about it' is not a good reason...'we didn't think about it but we are going to do it as a top priority' is a bit better.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Please fix live search

I dislike live search, mostly because of the way the results pages look. But I have a three liner fix that could make live search so much better.

First look at the default output for live search:


The text is all centered. The problem with this is that the margin against which it is centered is a false margin. It is imaginary. This confuses my mind. I look at this page and it makes very little sense. It is hard to read. I cannot go from link to link easily, and the link hierarchy is lost.

Let's look at my favorite search engine, Google, and how they display results:


Why is this better? It is better because the text margin is real - the side of my screen. It is easy to go from link to link, and hierarchies work fine in this display.

So how can I fix live search? A simple three liner will do it. I'm not sure how your site is laid out since you seem to be including the style in the page (bad Microsoft), and using a newline stripper on top of that (I hope it isn't like the one I wrote once, not because it is special or I want to sell it, but because mine was really slow and un-optimized). But wherever your style page is, remove:

    margin: 0pt auto;
    max-width: 990px;
    _width: 990px;

That's it! For completeness also remove the text-align:center on #sb_page, just for older versions of Internet Explorer. The end result will look like this (thank you Firebug!):


So much better! I might actually consider trying live search if it looked like this. If anyone actually knows greasemonkey, and wants to write a script to do this, please do, and I will link to it!

Notice: My suggestion may be used at any time, without credit, without any form of compensation, and without notice, or anything else. You can use it freely Microsoft. Really. Please do.

[NOTE]I am aware of how lame the images are. I will replace them soon with higher quality versions...