Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Microsoft Buys Sysinternals

As I have mentioned before, Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals is a hero of mine, demonstrating the deepest technical knowledge of MS Windows that I myself had once aspired to. His tools have helped me out of countless problems with Windows, and it was always a mystery to my why Microsoft didn't gooble up Mark and his business partner Bryce Cogswell because they so obviously loved Windows and built needed software for the platform. Well that day has come and Mark blogged it.. I greatly admire what these guys have done and I am very happy for Mark and Bryce. However, I have deep concerns about ongoing availability and improvement of the Sysinternals tools which MS now owns. MS doesn't know ultimately how those are going to get packaged, where you can get them from, but its clear it won't be on Sysinternals indefinitely. The MS machine is going to absorb them, and I have no faith that it won't become another PowerToys or ResourceKit debacle. A lot of people, dare I say millions of people, really depend on these tools to succesfully manage Windows and it would be a real shame if Mark and Bryce stopped working on these, or they weren't released/updated as often. I can only hope that MS does the right thing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest

I rarely do movie reviews here, there are a ton of people that do it well, professinally or as a hobby, and I usually don't feel like there is much more to say. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (aka Pirates 2) is making so much money is such a bad movie I feel that I have to try and stop anybody that reads this from letting Captain Jack steal their hard earned money. Some background, I love Pirates 1. It was funny, the effects were great, and all the characters (Captain Jack down to the bad pirates) were just about note perfect for an action/adventure movie. It was near or at Indiana Jones good, and I watched it in the theater a bunch of times, own the DVD, and have watched that a bunch of times. Seeing Deep give his performance there was a thing of beauty. Pirates 2 is none of those things. It is only funny in very few places, and not for dialogue or character driven reasons, it's just slapstick. The funny is nearly all in the first 30 minutes, and then it becomes very not funny. In fact, for a movie with so much motion, I was bored out of my skull. You don't care about any of the characters because they are now uninteresting, and a large portion of the dialogue is recycled jokes or character beats from Pirates 1 that are no longer funny. Take Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, there is one recycled beat, that Indy can't draw his gun and shoot the swordsman near the end, everything else Indy does is in character, but like that character was on a different adventure, not replaying the first. Please save your money, don't go see this movie, if you must rent it on DVD or add it to your Netflix queue, but I would even say just give up on it. I felt like I had just seen The Matrix Reloaded all over again, but even there I had hope in Matrix Revolutions before seeing it, I have no hope for Pirates 3. Read below the spoiler warning for more specific criticism. *** SPOILERS *** The big set piece of the movie is the Kraken attack. But wait, you don't get that 1 time in some climatic battle, you get that 3 times, that's right 3 times, before the movie ends. Davy Jones, the CGI work on the tentacle face, is amazing, ILM hit it out of the park there, but the character is just one note mean and you don't really care. What Pirates 1 had going for it where memorable 2nd and 3rd tier characters that were amusing because of their character, Pirates 2 has reloaded on bad Pirates, but they are all memorable only for their appearance, and even that is sometimes mudddled because the CGI is so busy it becomes hard to make out. Jones' ship, the Flying Dutchman, is fun to see dive under the water, but then you don't really get a sense why they have to do that other than to loop on more CGI. Couldn't the fish pirates just jumped overboard and swam to shore? There are large sections of the movie that have nothing to do with the main plot, including the whole cannibal island business. Cannibal Island was the most fun in the movie, but again it just doesn't feel like it's part of this movie. And the movie is too long, you could easily excise a whole bunch of crap from this movie. I like long movies that need the time to tell the story, this is not one of those movies, its just long for excess special effects because the makers feel that's how they will get people their money's worth instead of building a better story. I have read a bunch of times that this is like Empire Strikes Back, and the people that make that comparison couldn't be more delusional. Empire is an emotional punch, not just a visual one. The AT-AT attack is much more powerful than any single Kraken attack in Pirates 2, and the "loss" of a hero in Han Solo feels like a punch in the stomach because you can feel the emotion between Han and Leia. Captain Jack going into the bowls of the Kraken (which looks like the Sand Pit creature in Return of the Jedi btw) means nothing, its just the next set piece.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fascinating Analysis of Windows Vista Bugs

Robert McLaws: FunWithCoding.NET - Windows Vista Edition : Windows Vista Bug Reports: An Analysis This analysis, complete with pretty charts and graphs (I presume courtesy of Excel 2007, very nice) is a fascinating look at the bug reporting process for just the publicly accessible tools Microsoft has provided. I would love to see the data MS has internally. This is not to bash Vista. I just find large engineering projects fascinating, and this is certainly one of the biggest, maybe the biggest in all of software. I am currently in the bug triage phase on a project and I am humbled by the monumental task MS must have of deciding what to fix and what not to fix to get Vista out the door.