Tag Archives: microsoft

Windows, Not Walls

Is it me, or is Microsoft’s adver­tis­ing absolutely schiz­o­phrenic? First they started with their two Seinfeld ads. I think I am one of the few that found them to be enter­tain­ing. They were fun lit­tle short films, but I can see how they didn’t really work as ads–although they did gen­er­ate a lot of talk, which per­haps means they served their pur­pose. Now they have been replaced with sev­eral “I’m a PC and I’ve been stereo­typed” ads. I find zero enter­tain­ment, zero fun, and zero rewatch­a­bil­ity in those ads. In fact, the way they directly address Apple’s “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” spots, they seem more like defen­sive PR spin-control than adver­tis­ing. I get it. People who use PCs don’t always wear ties and some­times work in exotic loca­tions, includ­ing under­wa­ter, space (actu­ally, they tend to use cus­tom hard­ware in space and NASA is a huge con­trib­u­tor of code to the Linux-based Open Source com­mu­nity), on the farm, and at sewing machine sweat­shops. On the flip side, I don’t wear jeans and a hoodie, don’t have “cre­atives” as “deliv­er­ables,” and don’t fit into the stereo­type of artists who use Macs. I use my Mac to write code, do advanced math, and edit design spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Where’s my ad? My take­away from these new Microsoft com­mer­cials is pretty much zero. No enter­tain­ment, no edu­ca­tion. Bring back Seinfeld! At least those were awk­wardly funny, if noth­ing else.

In related news, the cur­rent run of print adver­tis­ing they’re doing is bizarro. “Windows, not walls.” I was pretty quick to spot that the thick­ness of the cutout piece does not equal the thick­ness of the wall. A coworker (thanks, Rick!) pointed out that the guy is using a sawz-all to cut through walls that have live power run­ning through them. See how it’s plugged in a meter or two from the “win­dow?“

Oh, and look! Cute pen­guins! Wait, pen­guins being used to adver­tise Windows???

Microsoft, it’s time to be con­sis­tent and under­stand­able with your adver­tis­ing.

Posted in: Dear Diary


Please take warn­ing: this post will con­sist almost entirely of other people’s con­tent and links to that con­tent.

I picked up the PDF ver­sion of iPhone Open Application Development from O’Reilly today. I’ve only skimmed through it, but it looks like a pretty good overview of design­ing, writ­ing, and imple­ment­ing iPhone appli­ca­tions using the cur­rent Open Source tool­chain. No doubt, large amounts of it will become obso­lete when Apple releases the offi­cial SDK, but the APIs should at least remain the same.

Land of the Lost was cooler than LOST. I remem­ber those Sleestaks being scary mo-fos.

Merlin Mann has a list of Five sub­tle changes in the event that Microsoft acquires Yahoo! at 5ives which I will reprint in their entirety (and with­out per­mis­sion, I might add):

1. your Flickr.com pho­tos are still your own (although human faces are now obscured by selected part­ner com­pany logos)
2. owing to unavoid­able data cor­rup­tion, all Upcoming.org events must be rein­stalled monthly
3. fol­low­ing upgrade to Vista, click­ing del.icio.us links now requires 1 GB of RAM and 40 GB drive space (per link)
4. Jerry Yang now com­pelled to “do that funny MC Hammer dance” when­ever Ballmer’s meds start wear­ing off
5. folksy motto tweaked to “If You Ever Want to See That Pretty Family of Yours Again, You Damned Straight Better F—ing Yahoo!”

The Flickr thing is actu­ally a pretty good point. I remem­ber when Flickr and Yahoo merged and there was a lot of yelling and scream­ing about it. They made you get/merge Yahoo accounts and imposed harsher lim­its on the free accounts. It makes me won­der if Microsoft is going to revive Passport or MSN or force Yahoo to start using their MS Live accounts or some­thing.


Posted in: Software

Microsoft Surface

ms_surface.jpgMicrosoft Surface. It is the new tech­nol­ogy announced by MS this evening. It looks cool. It looks gim­micky. It looks like it is some seri­ous beta tech­nol­ogy. I can’t really see peo­ple mak­ing room for a cof­fee table sized com­puter in their home any­time soon, but per­haps as instal­la­tions at bars and cof­fee shops, as their intro­duc­tory videos show. I have a feel­ing that the main prob­lems are going to be (1) usabil­ity and (2) real-world sit­u­a­tions. I can zoom pho­tos and look at maps. Cool. Can I eas­ily com­pose email? Not so much. Can I use a browser? Probably not with­out some weird, non-intuitive UI ges­tures (for example–how do I spec­ify I want to open in a new tab/window ver­sus in the cur­rent win­dow.) As for real-world sit­u­a­tions, I see a few issues. Will it take the “sweat” con­den­sa­tion from a cold drink? Will a warm drink cause the under­ly­ing LCD’s col­ors to go weird? Is it imper­vi­ous to tag­gers scratch­ing their nicks into the glass with a knife or the pointy end of a com­pass? What about at home? It shows chil­dren dig­i­tally finger-painting on the sur­face, but what hap­pens when they attack it with real paint?

So while I like the idea of the tech­nol­ogy and its use, I have to take it with a very large salt-lick. It won’t be ready for prime time for a very, very long time.

Posted in: Gadgets

Windows eXperience Points

Lately, I have spent a small amount of time look­ing through people’s resumes.  Without fail, every one has a sec­tion at the end that shows what fla­vors of Unix and what fla­vors of Windows they are pro­fi­cient in.  It struck me today that if I was the one being inter­viewed, I could say that I was pro­fi­cient in Windows 3.1 (and actu­ally I could prob­a­bly go fur­ther back and say Windows 386 or even Windows 1.0) up to Windows 2000.  Although Windows XP is sup­pos­edly obso­leted by Windows Vista, I would end up hav­ing to say “I could prob­a­bly fig­ure out Windows XP or Vista if I had to.”  I do not believe I have ever used Windows XP hands-on and have never seen Vista out­side of screen­shots and videos.

I find this all a lit­tle bit shock­ing and sur­pris­ing, although I have no idea why.  I’ve never had the desire or neces­sity to run Windows XP, nor have I really had the hard­ware.   I have an almost fanat­i­cal dis­like of the com­pany and the OS  ...yet...  I feel a lit­tle weird that I have never used it and know next to noth­ing about it.

Posted in: Work

Offline XP Upgrades?

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2007/02/

Dear LazyWeb,

Problem: To test some com­pat­i­bil­ity issues between a par­tic­u­lar web server and the lat­est, great­est Windows XP, I need to upgrade an XP box from SP2 to what­ever hot­fixes and stuff comes after SP2 (includ­ing Internet Explorer 7.)

Complication: For rea­sons beyond my con­trol, the XP box does not have access to the inter­net, so auto­matic update won’t work. In fact, no Windows machine at my dis­posal has inter­net access–just Linux and Mac machines.

Previous Solution: When help­ing to pro­tect my par­ents Win2K machine (with 14.4 dialup inter­net access), I vaguely remem­ber a part of the Microsoft FTP or web site where I could go and man­u­ally down­load the var­i­ous secu­rity rollup hot­fixes and junk, burn them to disc, and install them at my leisure. I can’t seem to find any­thing like that for XP.

What do I do?

Posted in: Questions Software

Work Crews, Right Turns, Bad Music Players

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2006/11/

This morn­ing, I was stopped at a light on the water­front, wait­ing to turn onto Moody and on to the free­way. My eyes wan­dered and fixed upon the cor­rec­tional facil­ity work crew van across the road. Lately, there have been a lot of these kinds of work crews on the free­way doing stuff like pick­ing up trash, but I haven’t seen them close to foot traf­fic before. My eyes then wan­dered to the guy stand­ing next to the van. He was wear­ing an orange jump­suit and hold­ing an elec­tric hedge trim­mer. I then double-checked the door locks.

This after­noon, as I was mak­ing a right turn (in the outer of two right turn lanes) with a large van obstruct­ing my view to the left, the light turned green, and a small asian lady in a large red SUV ran the red light and almost T-boned me. We gave each other dirty looks when we reached the next red light.

So the Zune came out today. For those that do not know, it’s Microsoft’s sup­posed “iPod killer,” Maybe I just don’t under­stand, but their whole busi­ness model looks retarded to me. This arti­cle does a pretty good job of sum­ma­riz­ing the pric­ing issues. With most ser­vices, you sign up, put a credit card num­ber on file, then pur­chase things that get charged to the card. In the Zune’s case, you buy a block of “points,” then use those points to pur­chase music. If you run out of points, you need to buy another block of points–like a ticket book or book of stamps. You’re effec­tively buy­ing and redeem­ing gift cer­tifi­cates over and over again rather than directly pur­chas­ing songs.

So then how much do songs cost, com­pared to iTunes? Zune songs are 79 points and iTunes songs are 99 cents. So it’s cheaper, right!? Nope. The exchange value for points is 1.25 cents per point, so they end up being the same. Actually, the Zune songs are a quar­ter of a penny cheaper, but the draw­backs make it not really worth the one-penny-per-four-song sav­ings. When buy­ing any music, you have this extra layer of cur­rency con­ver­sion to keep track of. In the US, we have this thing called “dol­lars” that has been proven to be per­fectly ser­vice­able for trans­ac­tions for sev­eral hun­dred years. More recently, the greater por­tion of the free world has this thing called “credit cards” that make it eas­ier to pur­chase on the inter­net because it’s elec­tronic and auto­mat­i­cally con­verts between cur­ren­cies. I’m not sure what about this sys­tem needed to be rein­vented, but Microsoft rein­vented it any­way.

The fewest num­ber of points you can buy is 400 for $5. That’s 5 songs with 5 points left over. There’s no way you can use up your points until you buy $395 worth of songs. The left­over points (and asso­ci­ated cash) end up sit­ting in your account at Microsoft–sort of like a bank. You’re effec­tively giv­ing MS an interest-free loan. Your pen­nies alone don’t amount to much, but when you get thou­sands of peo­ple using the ser­vice, that can be a lot of money that MS is earn­ing inter­est on and not pass­ing along to the peo­ple who effec­tively “own” those points/money.

The other con­fus­ing this is that Microsoft built up a music store and a DRM tech­nol­ogy called Plays-For-Sure. It means that music you buy from Napster or Rhapsody or what­ever non-iTunes ser­vice you use will play on Windows Media Player and will be playable on music play­ers that sup­port this Plays-For-Sure tech­nol­ogy. Basically, MS has thrown that into the trash. The music you pre­vi­ously pur­chased from one of these ser­vices won’t play on the Zune and music you buy from the Zune store won’t play on your exist­ing Plays-For-Sure media player.

The wire­less abil­ity intrigues me, but the iPod already has a big place in my life and prob­a­bly won’t be replaced any time soon–especially not for some­thing like the Zune.

P.S. it doesn’t work with Windows Vista!!?! The sup­posed next-gen portable media player doesn’t work with the very same company’s next-gen oper­at­ing sys­tem?!

Posted in: Dear Diary Gadgets

Developers, Developers, Developers, &c.

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2006/06/

I for­got to write about it yes­ter­day, but it looks like Bill Gates is retir­ing and angryMonkey Boy” is tak­ing over. In a way, I fear for Microsoft’s future. ...but then I stop to pon­der the Longhorn/Vista/Windows 2005...6...7...8 fiasco and have a lit­tle bit of a Simpsons “haw haw” moment.

Today in Microsoft Bashing

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2006/02/

Earlier today, Tom linked to an awe­some video: What would hap­pen if Microsoft designed the box for the iPod? Not only is it hys­ter­i­cal, it is absolutely true and quite cringe­ful. It reminds me of a lot of [info]odradak's posts (although his are mostly about web media, not print media and pack­ag­ing.)

In the past few days, the var­i­ous tech web­sites have been mak­ing a big deal about a “secret” Microsoft project called Origami. Earlier today, a post on Digg pointed to a video show­ing what it does. Is it me, or does this sim­ply come off as an awk­wardly over­sized Pocket PC PDA? You would need big pock­ets to carry it around and, pre­sum­ably, deep pock­ets to afford it.

Guess what? I had one of these in the mid 90's and it was called a Dauphin. It ran Pen Windows (a vari­ant of Windows 3.1), sported a 25MHz 486 chip, was about the same size as the thing in the video (maybe a touch thicker and with­out the fancy click­wheel but­ton), had a nice (Wacom-style, not sim­ply touch­screen) pen, and a tiny key­board on a cord. The com­puter and key­board vel­croed to oppo­site sides of a nice zip­pered leather case. It wasn't any­thing spe­cial then (and, in fact, was awk­ward to carry around and use) and, as best as I can tell and in direct oppo­si­tion to the pop­u­lar buzz, it is not any­thing spe­cial now.

Posted in: Gadgets

Windows Horizon

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2005/10/

Just in case you thought Windows XP Home, XP Professional, XP Server, and XP Advanced server was hard to keep track of, check out the ver­sions of Vista that will be avail­able:

  • Windows Vista Starter
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Pro Standard/SB
  • Longhorn Enterprise Server (ADS)
  • Longhorn Enterprise Server — IA64
  • Longhorn Standard Server
  • Longhorn Datacenter Server
  • Windows Vista Pro Std/SB/Ent — VL Binding Service
  • Windows Vista Pro Std/SB/Ent — VLGeneric
  • Windows Vista Pro Std/SB/Ent — DMAK
  • Windows Vista Starter Digital Boost — OEM
  • Windows Vista Home Basic — OEM
  • Windows Vista Home Premium — OEM
  • Windows Vista Ultimate — OEM
  • Windows Vista Pro Standard/SBOEM
  • Longhorn Enterprise Server — OEM
  • Windows Vista Home Basic N
  • Windows Vista Pro Standard N

Yeeeeaaaaahhhh..... because the aver­age Home user/upgrader who can barely keep viruses and spy­ware off of their machine will know whether they want Starter, Basic, Premium, or Ultimate. Well, the gamers appar­ently will want Ultimate because it includes some tools for fine-tuning your sys­tem for the ulti­mate gam­ing expe­ri­ence. Then again, why won’t they just get the Basic or Premium and use 3rd party or pirated copies of those tools? Or just a pirated copy of the entire OS?

Move Any Mountain

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2005/09/

Yesterday, after fin­ish­ing lunch at Wild Oats, I strolled down the candy and power-bar aisle. My main moti­va­tion was to find some­thing to keep in the drawer and snack on later, but I was also secretly hop­ing to find Apollo Bars (yeay for prod­uct place­ment!) Instead, I found some­thing called HoneyStix. HoneyStix are like Pixy Stix, only instead of being filled with fla­vored sugar pow­der, they are filled with nat­u­rally fla­vored honey: orange, lemon, lime, pink lemon­ade, mango, peach, cherry, grape, apple, rasp­berry, cin­na­mon, and mint. The same com­pany makes a prod­uct called AgaveStix, which is agave syrup instead of honey (pre­sum­ably more hardcore-vegan friendly.) I ate one straw of the stuff yes­ter­day and could almost feel my heart want­ing to explode from the sugar rush. They are really good but really insanely rich.

Ebenezer has this lit­tle game he likes to play with Kim and I. After a shower, with your towel wrapped around your body, if you bend over a lit­tle bit, he will jump up on your back and either flop over and lie down or will look up for even higher places he can jump to (like the towel rack or top of the door frame.) He actu­ally does that not just in the bath­room, but almost any time he can. This morn­ing, I hopped out of the shower hold­ing a lit­tle hair­ball that had been clog­ging the drain. I leaned over to throw it in the trash and he hopped up on my back. He quickly dis­cov­ered it was still wet and slip­pery and in the process of slid­ing off man­aged to tear things up pretty well. Now that I am at work, I have dis­cov­ered that bits of my shirt have dried to my back. Fun. Fortunately, it is a dark col­ored shirt and fairly thick.

I came within pages of fin­ish­ing How Would You Move Mount Fiji last night. It was a lot dif­fer­ent than I expected. The book was pretty heavy on the Microsoft wor­ship and light on the logic puz­zles. It also proves itself as being a lit­tle dated. If the same book were writ­ten today, it would likely focus instead on Google and their puzzle-based recruit­ment and con­tests. The sort of funny thing is that the puz­zles read like an anno­tated solu­tion guide to a few of the puz­zle cards for Perplex City. C’est la vie.

Posted in: Dear Diary