Thursday, December 23, 2010

Part 40: when wireless goes wrong

After a blissful summer away from the wide world of Windows, I have been forced to return. Rather than fight for my right to have cross-platform compatibility, I succumbed and had someone buy me a PC. Windows 7. It's sort of okay, although changing the menus in Office is really unnecessary (since "add a row" is now under the "home" menu, which makes no sense of course) and since the UI is still several years and iterations behind OS X. (For instance; in Mac OS I can use "pretzel"-tab to change programs and "pretzel"-` to change windows within a program. Windows 7: I can only change amongst all open windows. Although the nested window view is somewhat useful.)

Anyway, all was going somewhat well until, with no prior warning, my wireless connection today went completely kaput. It just ran dry. When I click on the little wireless icon, it tells me that it is not connected, and that "no connections are available."

Okay, well, I have a trusty-if-elderly (nearly four years old) Mac, and can turn to the Googles. If I search for the no connections phrase and windows 7, I get a Microsoft Help page. Oh, that's lovely. There must be a nice, easy fix for this, right? Wrong.

There are six steps, the first of which is power-cycling your computer, wireless router and modem. I haven't read the others yet. All I know is I first have to deal with the email I wrote and now have to save elsewhere (and hope the formatting doesn't get messed up) and then go through several annoying steps so my computer will, you know, connect to the internet.

It's amazing that in 2010 Microsoft has a product which will lose its internet connection and not easily get it back. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm writing this on my Mac. Connected to the internet.

(Oh, and when you try to connect to the internet, you click the "open network and sharing center"—at least they don't call them wizards anymore—and then click "connect to a network, which takes you back to the same window where you clicked open network and sharing center. Which circle of hell is this, again?)

Update 1: Power cycled the machine. It did nothing. Except give me a few glorious seconds when Windows was off.

Update 2: The ever-so-helpful Microsoft website tells me "Update the drivers for your wireless network adapter via Windows Update, or by using the website for either the company you bought your PC/Laptop from or the manufacturer of your networking device." And how the fuck am I supposed to do that without an internet connection?

Update 3: I hit troubleshoot. It tells me that wireless capability is turned off. Why? Lord only knows. Why it went off in the middle of using the computer? Lord only knows. Can I click on the little wireless icon and turn it on? That would be intuitive. Of course not. It won't tell me how, only that there is a switch on the front or side of my computer, or a function key.

Hello? Is it 2002? Is anyone there?

Update 4: Apparently, if you hit F2—which, as it happens, is located conveniently above the 2 key—it toggles on and of the wireless. Now, why on earth would I want to be able to turn on and off my wireless with an errant keystroke? Wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense to, say, have a drop-down menu with the option to turn off my wireless, so that an errant slip of the finger wouldn't do it? Yes. It would. That's why the good lord created OS 10. I believe that was a feature on Apple products, oh, 9 or 10 years ago.

If anyone knows how to disable F2 as the toggle key for wireless, please let me know. I'd like to be able to turn off wireless, I guess, but I'd like it to be a bit more of a barrier than hitting one key. Maybe function keys should be left for things like screen brightness and volume; you know, things I use more than once in a blue moon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Part 39: Really? I can't use commas to separate email addresses?

So we recently upgraded our server. In addition to a bizarre method to change default printer preferences (which may well be the printer driver's fault so I won't document it here—yet), there's been a subtle change in our how Outlook works. Or, of course, doesn't work.

Let's say I want to email two people. In Gmail, I'd type in their addresses separated by commas, say, ",". I'd write my message, hit "send" and go on my merry way. And that's how it used to work in Outlook. But not anymore. If I go to send an email in outlook, I can't write it to ",". Oh, no-siree-bob. If I do something that intuitive, I get an error message:

Wait, what? I can't separate email addresses with a comma? And, smartypants, since you obviously know what I was doing (i.e. that I was separating emails with commas) why can't you just make the goddamn change for yourself!

Oh, yes, Windows = productivity.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Part 38: Word/Outlook integration

While we're knocking Outlook, what's the deal with the integration of Word and Outlook? Sometimes, I'm typing away in Outlook and get a message that Word needs to close, and since Outlook uses Word to edit applications, Word's crashing has rendered Outlook braindead, so carry on.

Also, it's so very well integrated that when I was editing my signature, I had a section which was 10 point Verdana italic, which refused to show in 10 point font in the actual email. Oh, yes, Word works so well I want to use it all the time!

Part 37: Can Outlook signatures be any harder to find?

So work decided that we should all have standardized signatures and can we all change them. Fine, whatever, I should be able to find out where to change signatures, right? They're a pretty generic part of email, so it's not like Outlook will hide the signature in an incoherent menu which is impossible to find. In a just and loving world, it would be on a main menu. Now, of course, Windows won't show me the whole menu if I haven't used it recently (thanks), but even if I have to expand the menus, I bet I can find it, right?


Now, in Gmail, where I don't even use a signature, I can find the signature setting easily. I click on settings, then, oh, hey, look! It's right there! Right on the main front screen! One click! Easy.

In Outlook? Oh, boy. I had to look it up on the Interwebs. First, I go to the tools menu. There, I select options. Now, leaving beside the fact that options shouldn't be under a tools menu (since an option isn't a tool) or should be called something out, I am presented with a mess of tabs and interfaces. I got to this without the web. But I didn't see "signature" on any of the tabs, so I kept going.

Had I clicked through all the tabs, I would have found that the mail format tab contains the signature dialogue. I have no idea what all the other functions Outlook has which are so very important, but the signature dialogue is in an not-at-all-obvious place, and is much further down the information tree than it should be. Then again, other than save and print, is there anything you can do without three menus and a dialogue box in Windows?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Part 36: Restart, restart, restart

I was out of the office for a couple of weeks and, apparently, Windows took it upon itself to download some update. And now that it has done so, it prompts me, every 15 minutes to restart. But it gives me 15 minutes to say no. What I really want to do is go about my business today, and restart at the end of the day when I shut down my computer. But "restart later" simply resets the clock.

Please, Windows, why can't you give me a "restart at my own goddamn convenience" button?!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Part 35: hidden formatting

I had a bit of an email I wanted to post in to Facebook. I figured the steps would be copy-paste-post, right? Not so fast.

It turns out Outlook had embedded some really hidden line breaks in to the text. So I wasn't just copying the text, but I was copying the line breaks too. So when
I posted it on Facebook, it didn't look right. In fact, it had random line breaks. It looked sort of something like
this. This was a problem for me because a) Facebook only displays a certain number of lines before saying "read more" and having a link and b) more importantly this was for my work's Facebook page (it's getting
annoying, isn't it?) and it looked ugly. Even more disturbing is that if I copied the text from the email, it would sometimes paste in with a bunch of xml before it. Seriously, come on.

The workaround was to copy everything in to Notepad (one of the less braindead windows applications, since it has so few useless features) to get it in to text and then paste it from there. It worked. But it was annoying.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Part 34: Word can't open it, but Google Docs can

I went to open up an attachment in which someone had filled out with text boxes (why text boxes? someone else designed the original) and found that most of the information was squeezed out of the text boxes which we next-to-impossible to drag to expand. But, rather than much around with the document in Word, I sent it to my gmail account and opened it first as html (fail) and then as a Google Doc. All of the sudden, the text boxes are gone, and all the information I need to access is easily visible.

What is perplexing is that the native software (Word) was unable to accomplish this task, while Google Docs did with ease. Google may be a huge corporation out to make a dime, but at least their products, you know, work.