Friday, November 20, 2009

Hotmail funny

When you get an email from a Hotmail account, it appends a message / advert for Microsoft on the bottom of the message (note: Gmail does not do this). This one is pretty good:

Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection.

Yeah. Right.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Part 33: One problem, many programs

For some reason, Word decided not to cooperate with me today. It just won't open. And since I was in the middle of writing something, this makes me angry. Oh look at what has happened!

Now, I've had programs freeze before. It happens. On all operating systems. Here's the thing: when something freezes on the Mac, it generally doesn't also freeze other programs. Like Outlook. First I got a message that Outlook used Word for writing emails, and since Word was dead, it was using something else. Then I got an active X error. Now it is frozen. So much for the typing I was doing in Word &c. Time for the three fingered salute.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Part 32: Where is Firefox

Here's a screen capture of my toolbar (why I can only capture elements of the screen on a screen capture and not the whole goddamn screen, well, that's a post of a different color) from this morning:

That would all be well and good if it weren't for what was in the window above it.

This happens, uh, a lot. I am happily browsing through Firefox and then I go in to my mail and then I go to click back to Firefox and--where has it gone? If I am in a program, how can it just up and disappear from my toolbar? Sometimes I flip out--has it close itself? Is the text box I was filling in gone forever? No, it just went in to Windows purgatory, and a few minutes later it will slide out and reappear as if nothing was wrong.

Seriously, though, what's the point of a toolbar if it's not actually going to show your open programs. Why not just have the computer poke me in the eye. It would get the same amount of information across to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Part 31: Still writing to a CD

Every time I start up my machine, a friendly little bubble pops up and announces that
This is news to me. Since I already burned the CD, ejected the CD and sent the CD off to someone, you know, a week ago. So every day, my reaction is, "I do?"

But, apparently, that doesn't matter.

"You have files waiting to be written to a CD" is something I've never seen on my Mac. You know, because once you burn the CD, it knows enough not to pester you about something you've already done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Part 30: Copying files and answering the same question

I am copying files to a CD. Now, there are two things going on here that piss me off. First of all, when I copy files to a CD in OS X, it tells me when it is full. On a Peecee, I have to guess, and make a new folder that will add it up for me. So there's that. Luckily, I know about how much data a 700 MB CD holds (about 650 MB).

But then, there's this:

This is annoying for two levels. First of all, this is completely cryptic. Files I didn't know existed will not be written, but it won't matter. THEN WHY TELL ME?!

Second, even though I continually checked the "use this answer every time" box, every time I did a new copy, it asked me the goddamn question again. You mean, there couldn't have been a "use this answer always for now and forever option"? That would have made my life a little easier.

Apparently, that's not the business Microsoft is in.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Part 29: What's in it for me?

Now, whenever I start up my machine, I see this:

Oh, hooray. First of all, I've never heard of that, so I am not about to download it. (It seems legit but still this could always be a shell.) Second, why should I download it. Let's do a quick pros and cons analysis.

Pros for me: I get to know if my copy of Windows is valid. This is not really a pro. If I have a valid copy of Windows (here, I do. In other cases, [redacted]) I'm fine. It will tell me "congratulations, you have a non-pirated copy of this software" which is basically a waste of my time. I know that already.

Cons: If I have a valid copy, this is at best a waste of time. And if I don't have a valid copy, it (perhaps) is able to check that and I lose my OS (not a huge loss, believe me) and/or have to go out and buy a new one. But, there is at least the chance that I would be unable to use my computer.

So, in other words, if I run the program, the best thing that happens is nothing, and the worst that happens is my computer is thrown in to turmoil. Sounds like pretty much a lose-lose.

Some of the comments on a story about this "product" (if you can call it that) are pretty good (although generally poorly spelled with horrid grammar):

there's never really been any advantage of having a genuine copy (except for the feel good inside feeling some people get)

Actually I get that feeling downloading pirated Microsoft software.

The "genuine advantage" was double-plus good speak, perfected to an art during the Bush years. I, for one, would appreciate this change back to common sense English descriptions that actually mean what they say.

Now, just drop the telephone activation stuff and make it an online method already.

"But it already has internet activation, idiot!"

No. What I mean is when you've used up your Internet activations due to troubleshooting hardware problems, you'll need to use the phone to tell them your PID and answer questions to get a new serial number of some sort in return to activate. But why the phone? This is a disadvantage to the deaf population. We embrace the internet because it's deaf-friendly. Why on earth can't Microsoft use a webform or application that we can answer questions to and punch in our generated PID code in? Such fail.

Note: Anonymous commenting is disabled in order to keep the quality of responses to a high standard.

Okay, fail.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Part 3.1 Office 2007

I've learned the best way to learn how to apply for jobs: post one yourself and read the resumes.

Well, I'm not quite at that stage. I am compiling the resumes. Here are a few hints:

1. Send your resume and cover letter in PDF format. That's the easiest and most universal. Everyone can open PDFs, on any system, and they are pretty much always compatible with everything.

2. If you wish to send a second format, send a .doc or a .rtf.

3. Do not send weird formats from open-source software. Hell, I am a huge proponent of such programs, but they have their time and places. Sadly, cross-platform resumes are not one. Create them in a non-Word program and save them as PDFs.

4. Give people options. Send a PDF, a .doc and post your resume online.

5. If you have Office 2007, good on you. MAKE SURE TO SAVE YOUR RESUME AS AN OLD .DOC FILE! I can not stress this enough. If you send it to someone who does not have the latest version, they will not be able to read it.

Now, as to why Microsoft did not make this backwards compatible, I'll never know. Nor will I understand why they didn't, I don't know, send out a patch to everyone using Word. (Find me someone who would say, "no, I'd rather not be able to open files people send me thank you" and I'll find you a fish with a bicycle.) But, no, they have a "pack" (read: "patch") you have to download yourself, and for some ungodly reason a wee extension which should be a few hundred kbytes to convert xml to an older .doc format is 28 megabytes! And you have to restart for it to take effect.

It does, surprisingly, seem to, I don't know, work.

Part 24.2 ... Why?

Oh, Firefox. I don't think you are to blame. Why, oh, why does the operating system on which you run let you open but not initiate? Why does it allow you to be opened multiple times without a friendly message such as "you have already opened Firefox" or "Firefox is already running"? Why, praytell, do you initiate several different Firefox.exe tasks chewing through memory without the program starting? Why, indeed.

And why, after I go in to the Task Manager and manually end each of the running tasks, do you start up without fail? I'm not blaming you, Firefox, I am blaming Windows.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Part 28: Why is powerpoint picture-from-file so braindead?

You may remember in Part 27 when we were adding and subtracting pictures in Powerpoint to resize a document.

Here is the question. A Powerpoint slide is a set size, probably 1024x768. When you want to insert a picture in to a Powerpoint slide, can you think of any conceivable reason why you'd want the image to be any larger than the slide itself? I can't, other than to, say, show a blown up part of a significant piece of a large photo, but in that case I'd probably crop it first. In any case, one would surmise that when inserting a "picture from file" it would downsize it to the size of the Powerpoint slide for easy manipulation.

Ha. Of course not. If you put in a 2000x3000px picture, it opens way over your slide, and screen! You have to scroll to the corner and downsize, and then scroll, and downsize again, and then size it to where you want it, and then move it to where you want it in the slide. Kudos, Microsoft, on making something which should take two or three steps (insert, move, resize if necessary) take eight (insert, scroll, resize, scroll, resize, scroll, resize, move). That's productivity.

Part 27: Oversized powerpoints

A coworker says to me: "I am trying to send a Powerpoint document and it's too big. Any ideas on how to resize it?"

We take a look at it. It is just over 5 mb. So we remove one picture and put in a downsampled one. And it is just over 5 mb. So we check the size of the other picture. It's 2.75 mb. Somewhere, Powerpoint has found an extra 2.25 mb.

So we remove the other picture. And resave. Voila! It is now 108 kb. So we put in the offending picture, and somehow it is now 3 mb and won't bounce.

The question, of course, is where that phantom 2.25 mb came from?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Part 24.1

Firefox is being weird. Once it opens, it's fine, of course. It's the opening it up part which is not bloody working.

As I whinged recently, every time (then it was sometimes, now it is every time) I open Firefox it asks me "which account do you want to use to run this program?" Uh, THE ONE I AM LOGGED IN TO, NUMBNUTS! I say okay to the dialogue. And more often than not, Firefox doesn't start.

The first time this happened, I opened Firefox again and again and again, and finally decided to use Safari for Windows. I like Safari, I use it on my Mac, but the Windows version is a wee bit buggy; I prefer Firefox on Windows. I'll make do with Safari (the other option is far less pleasant in my vIEw) but would like for my Firefox to, I don't know, work?

So the next time it happened (after my start-up) I tried to open Firefox three times after the dialogue (to no avail) and then I three-finger-saluted my way in to the Task Manager. There, lo and behold, there were several Firefox "tasks" running. Of course, I had to end each separately (why a single program can be opened multiple times is a quirk I will never understand), and once I did, tah-dah!, Firefox started up.

So that's my daily routine, now. Start Firefox. Say yes to the dialogue. Start it again, go in to task manager, kill the Firefox tasks, and then, actually launch Firefox.

I. Hate. Windows.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part 26, cont.: They did me again

I think this needs little further explanation (mainly because I can't make any sense of it):

dwwin.exe DLL initialization failed.
The application failed to initialize because the window station is shutting down.

Except, the window station (what? is this English?) is not shutting down, which is the entire problem.

The system cannot end this program because it is waiting for a response from you.

Oh, that's nice. It's my fault. Meanwhile this program has not been open for hours and only needing a response from me because it failed to close properly or completely and has been hiding in the background, ready to rear its ugly head now.

Adobe acrord32.exe application error
The instruction at "0x5ad71531" referenced memeory at "0x00000014" the memory could not be "read"

Cute, tell me about some random line of code and random bit of memory. This is entirely unhelpful. If you had a countdown timer (like, oh, I don't know, my Mac) that just shut down 120 seconds after being told to, come hell or high water, I wouldn't have to deal with this bullshit.

If my time is worth $20 per hour, and I spend 3 minutes a day dealing with this, and I work 250 days a year, that's $1 per day, or $250 per year, or $750 over the lifespan of a computer (assuming it is amortised over three years). Can someone please explain how it is more efficient to save a hundred dollars on a PC just to have staff waste hour upon hour of time trying to make the goddamn system work?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Part 25: Dude, you're getting a Dell. And it sucks.

I may have blogged this before but sometimes when I shut down my computer, it doesn't. I say shut down, it asks me if I am sure, I say yes I am sure, and go on my merry way. And then, it doesn't. It has something to do with not properly shutting down Acrobat (I'd grab a screenshot but once I say okay to that dialogue it, presto, shuts down) but I wind up leaving it on all night (or, in this case, weekend) and then having to restart in the morning.

And today ... it didn't even shut down properly. I said yes to the stupid dialogues. And waited. And took a phone call. And waited. And went to fill my water bottle, and waited. All that was splashed across the screen was a big image that said "DELL" as if to remind me of a computer brand that, given the choice, I will never buy. But, seriously, do you want your brand name to be displayed for minutes (and if I hadn't manually shut down, hours) while people ponder why their machine to work? Shouldn't they put up a big apple instead?

Part 24: Wither user?

When I start up Firefox for the first time after restarting, Windows gives me this nonsense. I've logged in, but it asks me if I want to run this program as what I've logged in as. I think it's a ploy to get me to use IE. (NEVER!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Part 23: What the Firefox?

Firefox wouldn't respond, so I selected it on the bottom tab and closed it.

Then I clicked on a link to reopen it, and several things happened, none of them intuitive:

1. Firefox didn't open.

2. Windows opened an explorer dialogue, asking me where I wanted to save the link. (Excuse me? I want to view the bleedin' link!)

3. Windows popped up a cryptic error message, informing me that

Firefox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system.

Okay, so I stopped the Firefox process. It disappeared off my task bar. But it was still going on, somewhere, in space. Had I probably wanted to, I could have Ctrl-Alt-Deleted my way to the task manager, and from there tried to end the process, which generally just creates "end task" "applications" which are "not responding." I've been down that road. So the other option is to, what, restart my computer? Sure, that might work. But more thank likely, I'd enter the Catch-22 of the Windows universe, and be told that I can not shut down my computer until I end Firefox.

That seems like backwards logic to me...


Update: It still won't open. I opened the task manager. It shows no task for Firefox. Lovely.

Friday, January 23, 2009

File this under "faint praise"

I've done my best to stay far, far away from Vista. My work machines still use XP, and I'm fine with that (as opposed to Vista). I've loved the Mojave ads with people saying "hey this doesn't really suck" and then being told that it's Vista. (Oh dear, the Mojave experiment site linked above is bloated and takes forever to load. What's new?) If your ad campaign is "hey look this great product we have actually isn't as bad as you think" something has gone wrong.

Well, today Pogue reviews Windows 7. It's not a new Windows OS, it's basically Vista with some of the inexorably horrid parts stripped. Pretty much the whole article is made up of grafs saying things like "You know that really awful feature of Vista? Well for $150—or a free beta if you download today or tomorrow—you can get rid of it!"

Such as:

Trouble is […] the much-despised, Orwellian-named User Account Control […] was way too suspicious, demanding your name and password even when it was just little old you making innocent changes (like setting your computer’s clock). In Windows 7, you can tone U.A.C. down — eliminating the warnings, for example, when you, the human, are the one making changes.

Oh, yay, a security feature that is probably mostly theater (it works great until someone hacks your password, too) is dumbed down.

Even in the test version, you can feel that a lot of things are faster: starting up (40 seconds on my three test machines), shutting down, reconnecting to wireless networks, copying files and inserting flash drives, for example. It’s no Windows XP

Tremendous. Three years on and it's still slower than its predecessor.

As Microsoft puts it: “If it works in Windows Vista, it will work with Windows 7.” That’s not great, but what else can Microsoft do?

Still not backwards compatible.

And these are the best things he can say about them. The article's title, "Hate Vista? You might like Microsoft's sequel" seems a bit too laudatory.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Part 22: HUNG

Follow this timeline, if you will:

Thursday, 5:20: Start-->shut down-->yes, I want to shut down. The computer begins to shut down. Sometimes, it will hang at this point and tell me that another program has not closer properly and two dialogues later it will begin the shutdown process.

Thursday, 5:21: Seeing no issues (although the computer, as usual, is taking forever to shut down) I turn off the screen and go home.

Thursday, 5:22ish: Apparently, it decides not to shut down.

Friday, 9:02: I go to turn on the computer to find that it hasn't shut down. I can't get it out of the cycle, so I say "OK" to the dialogue and let it begin the process.

Friday, 9:03: I go off to the mail room and lunch room.

Friday, 9:05: I return, and find the computer with a soothing, empty blue screen, which would be great, except that there's nothing productive I can do with a soothing, blue screen.

Friday, 9:06: I try moving the mouse (it moves). I try Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Nothing. I try it again. Nothing.

Friday 9:07: I crawl under my desk and unplug the machine.

Friday, 9:08: I plug it back in and push the power button. It starts.

Friday, 9:09: I log in and begin my day.

Now, you'd think that an energy efficiency organisation would employ an operating system which would shut down (and not draw power all night) and that it would be worth my time in increased productivity not to spend ten minutes making my computer work. Ha.