Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Windows Rage

Windows XP SP2 multiple monitor support is ruined by one egregious bug. Anyone using multiple monitors, one of them being a laptop, and extending the desktop onto the second monitor knows what I am talking about.

How can it be OK for all my icons to get scrunched together from the laptop display to the secondary display? How can this feature, its got to be one of the most common scenarios, make it out of QA without getting fixed? This is attention to detail stuff guys, it shouldn’t make it 4 years before this gets patched.

I feel Windows Rage. It’s when I encounter something so bone-headed in Windows I just want to stick a pencil in my LCD.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spotlight vs. Desktop Search on Windows

When people compare OS X 10.4 Tiger to Windows XP, the conversation always heads to desktop search in Spotlight vs. 3rd party solutions on XP.

The 3rd party solutions that I have used on XP are: Google Desktop and MSN Toolbar with Desktop Search.

Both have the same fundamental flaw which Spotlight doesn’t share: there is a delay between file creation and the engines indexing the content. The Windows partisans will say it doesn’t matter that any of the desktop search tools for their platform have a delay, you won’t notice it.

But I noticed today in a few instances, and I sure wish that something on Windows had the inline indexing that Spotlight has.

First case, the size of my mailbox in Notes was starting to creep up, so I wanted to delete a whole bunch of crap. I used Google Desktop to find stuff I wanted to delete, and then I had to correlate that in Notes. Not too bad, but not as tight as Spotlight and I clean out this stuff, and then I went back into Google Desktop to see if I had missed any, and the index hadn’t updated, which struck me as wrong because I am used to Spotlight.

The next one was worse. I was working on a spreadsheet in Excel. I had received the original copy in email, so when I opened it, it was opened from one of the Notes download caches. I have no idea where that is. I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I did a Save As to rename it, I ended up saving the spreadsheet in the download location. When I closed the file and then went to email it to someone, I was confused that it wasn’t on my desktop and was fearful that I actually hadn’t saved. So I think Google Desktop will solve this problem, I really don’t care where the file is, only it didn’t because the index wasn’t updated. This is when I got angry and the Inner Exception was raised to blog this.

If desktop search on Vistows (I am auditioning Windows Vista nicknames) doesn’t index files when the file operations happen, it will suck and there will be no difference from what the 3rd party desktop searches provide now.

Google Talk is a mixed bag

Google Talk is a mixed bag, and not much to get hyped up over.

Things I like:
  • Clean UI, not all the clutter of MSN Messenger

  • Interop with iChat on Tiger through Jabber. Tried this last night, worked great.

  • No Ads. I hate MSN because of this.

  • Chat windows and the main friends window “snap” together when you move them close enough to each other. Then if you move the main friends window, it moves everything attached to it. Very nice.

  • When you are typing a long message in chat, the textbox for you to type automatically gets bigger so you can see your whole message. Sweet.

Things I might like:
  • The Talking. Don’t have anybody to try this with at work, no mic. Since no Google Talk for OS X yet, no testing this out for me. Docs say it should work through firewalls and NAT, so it sounds promising.

Things I don’t like:
  • No graphical emoticons. You have got to be kidding me, how can you release without these.

  • Tray Icon is plain. Icon looks almost exactly like the iChat menu bar icon. But this is XP, not the OS X menu bar, and you need color to standout from the other baubles in the tray.

  • Can’t control the fonts in chat. I like seeing different colors for people chatting so I can at a glance see who sent the last message. This isn’t hard.

  • It’s a Beta. Do these people ever release anything?

Random Windows XP Complaint:
  • I wish there were shadows under non-maximized windows, like in OS X. Google Talk makes this so obvious because they are using a, possibly, 1 pixel border around all their windows. All the overlapping windows just jumble together.

Friday, August 19, 2005

iMac G5 Recall

Apple has issued a voluntary recall, iMac G5 Repair Extension Program for Video and Power Issues.

I may have already been bitten by this particular problem, but I can’t be sure. Shortly after I moved back to the East Coast in February 2005, I lost power to the house and the iMac of course was unceremoniously shutdown.

It was never right after that, scrambled video, and eventually it just wouldn’t boot. Two self-service repairs later, one for the power module, the other for the motherboard, and I was back in business. The self-service stuff on the iMac G5 was brilliant, once I walked through their troubleshooting wizard on the web. Apple sent me parts, backed by a credit card of course. All I had to do was install the new parts and return the old ones. I also secured the first personal UPS I have owned in a long time to prevent the power outage thing from happening again.

But the iMac G5 fan noise has changed, it is louder or maybe just higher-pitched now, and I always wonder if I messed something up with my open-backplane surgery. I think I might take this repair opportunity to have an Apple Tech put the iMac right, if they will of course. Not that there is anything truly wrong, it runs like a champ and I have “stressed tested” it with 6 hour marathon World of WarCraft sessions.

Is this recall a negative thing? Yes, there is a problem with the original parts Apple used in the iMac G5. However, we all know this happens with any number of PC manufacturers, and instead of manufacturers coming clean and saying they are going to take care of this for you; they make their customers work, and usually real hard, before repairs are authorized, even on warranty equipment. This has happened to me so many times, it’s why I ended up just building my own PCs from scratch because the manufacturers weren’t giving me anything I couldn’t do myself.

Transactional NTFS

Just found the Transactional NTFS (TxF) blog over on MSDN.

This is really good stuff, and something I have wanted in a filesytem for a really long time.

TxF might be the only feature in Longhorn (sorry, I think the name Windows Vista sucks) that I am actually excited about.

If HFS+ isn’t made transactional in OS X 10.5 Leopard, I will consider it a crime.

This is also the first post I am creating using the Blogger for Word that my buddies over at my former company developed for Google.

This work was started while I was there, and I tried to pitch doing something similar for Word for Mac or Pages, but I had no takers.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Word for Mac saves what Word for Windows can't

This is a completely true story that happened to me yesterday. One of my co-workers is writing a spec for the project I am running. She of course is using MS Word for Windows. We have been working on this document for close to a month and she was putting the final formatting touches on the document, adding polish. And then suddenly Word 2003 for Windows crashes on her. She hadn't saved in 75 minutes. Word tries to open its AutoRecover version of the document and nicely locks up instantly. She calls me over to asses the situation. She's already hit all the usual troubleshooting steps, so we copy the AutoRecovered document to a USB keychain planning on trying to open it on my laptop. 10 thought ballon spasms latter XP shows me what's on the USB keychain, and I try to open the document in Word. Same thing, it's completely hosed. So I bring out my personal PowerBook and plug in the USB keychain. Ah, the USB drive just appears on my Desktop, no seizure for this OS trying to figure out what this simple device is I just plugged in. I then attempt to open the corrupt to WinWord document in Word 2004 for Mac. It opens! It's obvious something is wrong with the formatting in the doc, since nearly all table headers have a numbered outline style applied to them. But Word for Mac doesn't barf. No no no, I save the document back to the USB keychain drive as a new file. I bring the USB keychain back over to WinWord, and now it can open the document because MacWord has created a document it can use! This version of the document is now the version of record and what will get delivered to the development team. Mac saved my business lost content and time!