Sunday, April 30, 2006

Asta La Vista UAC!

OK - I give up. I like UAC (User Account Control) in Vista - well I like the concept. But its implementation utterly sucks and is painful to use. Yes, I know the idea, but the implentatation is overly simplistic - relying as it does on 'authorising' each attempt to elevate priveleges. It just gets folks into the habit of clicking "yes - please go do whatever I just asked you to do" button. Which of course becomes a target of social engineering.

UAC is just not good for my blood pressure. So, thanks to the Windows Vista Build 5365 Tweak Guide, UAC is gone - and Vista is better. Bliss - or nearly. This guide to 5365 is not bad, although in step 3 to disable UAC, you have to click the Launch button (not the run button). This page has some other useful tweaks I'll explore in due course.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

MS Earnings Report Hits Share Prices

It's been an interesting day on Wall Street. As Reuters reports here, Microsoft's stock lost 11% on the day. OUCH!

So let me get this right. Income is up 13%, profit is up 17%, and the firm is on the crest of a huge wave of new products (PowerShell, E12, O12 and Longhorn), and the stock goes DOWN??? What is Wall Street thinking?

Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Monitor explains the results. He notes that Microsoft faces some interesting challenges. Wilcox says: "I expect some companies will see the new user interface and file formats as generating unnecessary additional overhead, because of retraining and other cost considerations."

I've believed all along that a Classic Mode is needed for O12. I'm sure Classic Mode could still be done. And it would a super way to reduce the initial training overhead, or at least the fear of the new UI. I've been using O12 a lot of late. I hate bits of it, but I quite like others. But Wilcox is right that users, particulary power users will need retraining.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Google Maps For ALL of Europe!

This is cool: Google now has Google Map Street Maps for ALL of Europe! Perfectamundo as we say at home. I've been checking on London and Amsterdam, two cities I have spent time in. These maps are excellent - and the satelite imagery is stunning. Nice one!

Watching History Change in Google

With Microsoft's arketing decision to call Monad "PowerShell", Google's index is now out of date. If you search on Google for "Powershell Windows" the current hits are all about a free-ware prodduct, and nothing on Monad (aka Powershell). Over the coming hours, we should see the index change. It'll be fun to watch the real hits rise!

,p> As I post this, Googling for "Powershell Microsoft" returns just 923 hits, while "Powershell Microsoft Monad" returns 23. MSN's index is marginally more up to date, but only by a bit. I wonder what these numbers are going to be in the morning?

Monad Becomes PowerShell

Monad has finally been given it's final real name: PowerShell. Not a bad name, I supppose, but what was wrong with MSH (Or The Microsoft Shell)? But whatever it's called, it's still one heck of a product"!

One small thing, James Smith, developer with a site at, might be just a tad annoyed since already has a product called PowerShell. I wonder whose lawyers will win?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TechEd Bloggers

Being quoted on TechEd Bloggers home page is not quite like getting Slash-dotted, but still fun. The bit cited on the TechEd Bloggers site is not quite the full story. The build is pretty stable, and works reasonably well - this bodes well. As a consumer OS, it'll sell well (if only because any OEM version of Windows sells well). It looks pretty too.

The bit of my earlier post cited by the TechEd Bloggers site related to the "move things around because we can" problem. Here are just two examples. First, in XP, you could right click the desktop background, select properties to open up the desktop properties. There was a single tabbed dialog box with all the options. But in Vista this is all changed. Your right click on the desktop brings up a Personalise (SIC) option. This is a menu listing the individual tabs in XP's dialog box and a bit more. Clicking some of those just brings up a (single tabbed!!!) dialog box which looks much like one tab in XPs's dialog. Clicking others brings up new windows. All very confusing and to me just adds more complexity to the process. At a very minimum lose the tab in the XP-cloned dialogs. A singe dialog needs both a window title and a tab why? Oh - and by the way, the window title and tab title are not really consistent in terms of what they display anyway!

The second example is the Desktop icons. In Win2k, the default desktop had a bunch of icons (the computer, IE, etc) in a particular order. In XP this changed to nothing being displayed, but you could change to a default order by clicking down into desktop properties. In Vista, this is done a different way, and the default order displayed are different. I like the ability to display the control panel - but why did the order have to change?

Compatibility is not quite there, but that's to be expected. I'm certain this is going to get better as Vista drives towards release. Also, the UI has butchered my beloved Turnpike. Turnpike looks so awful under Vista, I'm actually considering finding a new mail and news client. After using the product for something like 10 years, I'm reluctant. I'd really like a "compatibility mode for shell extensions that looked cool in XP" feature.

Another thing that jumps out is how much bigger Vista is than XP. Vista now comes on a DVD, roughly 6 times the size XP, if I have my maths right. The Windows folder alone is just a tad under 7GB! And after a day's running, the background memory usage is 1.3GB. I'm struggling to understand this apparant bloat. While there is some really great eye-candy and the stabilty is good, Vista is going to represent a wholesale replacement of my home network. While it all works fine under XP and Win2k3, several of my machines are just too long in the tooth for Vista. I suspect this may be true of many corporate clients.

But the thing that bugs me the most is UAP. This can not have passed the Jim Alchin's Mom test, and gets me angry every time it kicks in. Trying to delete windows.old (the folder the 5365 installer created from the previous build of vista on this box) has taken hours to complete. The combination of permissions, and the need to ask for admin priveleges drives me nuts. The think that makes least sense is that Vista doesn't make me enter admin credentials, just to click twice - with a couple of 2-3 second pauses in between. Now what is the point in that?? I really hope Vista RTM will have an easy way to turn this stuff off!!

Mind Map of Linux distributions - Version 2

I just found this really cool mind map of Linux distributions. A nice view of the various Linux flavoours and some of the relationships between the various distributions.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Vista 5365 - Looking Good (well better anyway)

I've just downloaded and installed the latest beta version of Vista, build 5365. The installation was relatively uneventful and in use, VIsta seems relatively smooth. The new pictures and screen savers are very cool to look at. With my big screen (24" wide screen TFT) and a reasonable graphics card (GeForce FX 5200) Vista looks very nice with all the eye candy. But it's still a beta.

But from a usability point of view, 5365 still seems to suffer from a "let's move stuff around because we can" syndrome. Sadly things that were easy to find in XP have been moved around for no obvious reason. Although I do like some of the improvements, the consistent sense of inconsistency in XP continues - we just have different bits that are inconsistent.

There are some other things about 5365 I hate - particularly UAP. The concept of forcing users to run with relatively low privaleges is a great one. But the implementation is Vista is just plain lame. As I'm setting up the system, the entire screen goes black for 2-3 seconds (a visual sensation similar to what we saw when XP blue-screened) then a silly dialog box pops up - I click Accept - the screen goes black for another 2-3 seconds, and I can carry on. It's very, very annoying - sufficiently so that I'm going to just log on with admin privaleges. It's easier and far less intrusive. Sadly, while I like the concept, MS has made a poor job of the implementation. Of course, mileage may vary on this - but I doubt many IT Pros will even come close to liking this implementation. We'll see.

Carmine - A Virtual Server Management Tool

Paula Rooney at CRN reports that MS are planning a Virtual Server management product, code-named Carmine. Her article, Microsoft Virtual Server Manager Augurs Partner Opportunities does not mention likely release dates. Also, although Paula's article does not specifically say so, other folks talking about Carmine say that it is to be based around Monad (e.g. here).

Whether or not it's based around Monad, a more compelling management product would certainly be very welcome. VS's UI is fairly lame - and that may be being kind. If Carmine is based around Monad, that would be really cool. article on Monad has an interesting article on Monad titled: As Exchange 12 Looms, Microsoft Tackles Monad Bugs > Concepts for Grokking. The article has a few minor errors (unless I've been awarded a doctorate and someone's fogotten to tell me), but it's an interesting background read.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Microsoft extends tool giveaway

CNET report that Micrsoft is to make Visual Stuidio Express free permanently. EXCELLENT!!

Microsoft extends tool giveaway

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper! Day in June, I'll be speaking about Monad. This event, which is free, looks to have a pretty good line up of speakers and topics. Book early!!