Windows 7: All of Vista’s cool, and only one of Vista’s sucks.

Sadly, Microsoft doesn’t see the user account control system as a bug. Sigh. Still, having done tech support for Vista, and then set up and rather extensively either used or seen used the system afterwards, if that’s the only thing I have to complain about–and so far, it is–it can’t be too terribly annoying. Particularly considering I’ve already found the off switch. I’ll take it. Now, if Microsoft wouldn’t mind too terribly not breaking what, at least for right now, is a pretty damn good Windows experience, that’d be really super extremely awesome. Since it’s Microsoft, and it’s Windows, and we all know both their histories, I’ll go ahead and start queuing up technically related rants. In the meantime, this is making me want to upgrade *my* machine. That… could get problematic.

Confirmed: IE 9 is not for XP. Yay?

Microsoft’s been on a “let’s find reasons to kill off XP” kick since the advent of Vista, let’s just get that out in the open right now. If Vista wasn’t a hugely steaming pile of crap, they would have probably done away with XP long before now. But, it was, and they didn’t. So now they’re coming up with new and some might argue better reasons for folks to not use XP. Like, say, Windows 7–which I’m told is supposed to have all of Vista’s cool and none, or at least less, of Vista’s suck. And XP service pack 3, which kind of lead to their dropping support for anything running an older XP version. And now their latest torpedo aimed at the USS XP. It’d been tossed out there as an unofficial rumor, but it’s since been confirmed. The newest version of Internet Explorer doesn’t like XP. And was probably designed that way.

Now, the million dollar question–is that a good thing? For someone like me, who’s machine was only purchased about 2 years ago now, I’d have to say yes. If only because it was originally clocked to be able to run Vista–it shipped with Vista on it already, not that vista *stayed* on it–and can therefore, by its very nature, more than likely support 7 and not break a sweat. But for someone who’s only machine is kissing 10 years old because that’s about all the computer they can aford, that might not be quite so positive. Even in this day and age, there’s a hell of a lot of people out there who swear by IE and very little else. Personally, I use it only because most of the things I do don’t work very well in firefox, and that’s only going to become more apparent if I land one of the two jobs I’m staring at.

So, pretty much, unless you’re in my technological situation, you’re going to be faced with a simple choice. You can buy a computer that can support Windows 7, then upgrade to Windows 7, or use Firefox. I’m going to put my recommendation behind Firefox. Now, to go find me a job so I can work on converting them to same. Blog ya later.

Why linux is for the epic motherfucking win.

From a thread regarding a speech-friendly installer for another Linux distro:

There’s definitely interest. I’d even learn the process for doing that for the sole purpose of contributing. Thanks for looking into it, William.

—–Original Message—–
From: speakup-bounces@braille.uwo.ca [mailto:speakup-bounces@braille.uwo.ca]
On Behalf Of William Hubbs
Sent: March 14, 2009 10:29 PM
To: Speakup is a screen review system for Linux.
Subject: Re: Speakup-enabled ArchLinux install CD, version 2!

—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
Hash: SHA1

Hi all,

I would like to get this done on gentoo, I just haven’t attempted to coordinate it with release engineering yet. My plan is for our latest version of speakup and espeakup to go stable, then I will work with release engineering to get it put onto our official cds.

I’m not sure how to build a minimal cd myself, but if there is interest, I can ask release engineering about how that would be done for testing.

On Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 10:10:59PM -0400, James Homuth wrote:
Careful. Yall are making me consider playing with Arch Linux if only because of its Gentoo-like qualities, minus compiling. This is, IMHO, exactly the kind of CD that particular distro needs. Would anyone mind > if I forward this thread to gentoo’s accessibility project?

I loves me some open source community talk, yo. Try doing *that* with Windows, or Mac.

PS: William = team lead for gentoo‘s accessibility project. Also known as the guys who maintain screenreader software’s compatibility with that particular flavour of linux. Also, keep in mind, that entire discussion took place on a publicly accessible mailing list over the course of a few hours. You are not going to get that from Micro$oft.

What’s worse than fixing Microsoft’s mistakes?

Fixing apple’s. What’s worse than fixing Apple’s mistakes? Fixing that which they already know about. For the record, I never want to get that involved with anything Apple related again. And this from a guy who’s got a well documented hatred of Microsoft. But at least their software doesn’t break everything else when you’re installing a supposedly updated version. Good job, dipsticks.

And yet, Microsoft’s status site says it’s all stable.

Now that’s a cover up for anyone who doesn’t happen to bother reading the local news. I probably shouldn’t be irritated about it–well, or using MSN messenger either for that matter, given my already stated opinion of Microsoft. But I do. So this morning I thought I’d jump online and see what was going on. Except it was apparently down. Not that Microsoft’s status page said so. According to that, all systems were stable. Well, things that get media attention are obviously true, or so I’ll keep telling myself, so does the fact that CTV has escentially told us otherwise change Microsoft’s opinion? Nope.

This page will be updated when information becomes available.
.NET Messenger Service All systems are stable and running.

The error message on my screen that says it’s temporarily unavailable says otherwise, but thanks for coming out. Ladies and gentlemen, corporate snow job at work. Just thought it deserved mentioning. Because I do that when people and companies are morons.

I despise Microsoft Office 2007.

Well, actually, I despise Microsoft. But Office 2007 for specific reasons. Primarily, it should not take me, who knows his way pretty much around Office products for the most part like the back of my hand, an hour and a half to figure out where the hell they put this or that setting that in the end it takes me 30 seconds or less to change. Nor should it stick document templates in easily corruptable files that it takes a small army to locate. And also takes 30 seconds to fix (read: delete). Microsoft, you suck. That is all.

My first official post from ye old reformatted desktop!

Proof that, after finding pieces of wireless card that have gone mysteriously astray, and after repeated phone calls to Dell techs in a rather mislead attempt to get a straight answer out of said Dell techs, I am still the master of all–well, okay, most–things Microsoft. Except Vista, which I will continue to maintain I will never touch for as long as it exists, lest my job require it to actually perform said job. And, since troubleshooting Vista related phone calls don’t require me to have a Vista machine in front of me… you can guess just how much time I’ll be spent even investigating that possibility. O’course, if you can’t, then… clueless art thou. A cluelessness the level of which not even Vista’s suckitude can hope to equal. And… that’s all manner of very, very bad. Hm. It’s 10 to 5, in the morning, I’m not working, this computer’s up and running… what am I still doing awake? Someone wanna tell me? Possibly?

Even Dell technicians hate Dell technicians. And Sympatico, and Microsoft, and…

Welp, as some of you know and others of you guessed I’m sure by now, the formerly Vista and now XP computer is up and running. Well, partially. No wireless network support and there’s still a rather lengthy list of devices Windows doesn’t have drivers for. But I’m slowly piecing that together. Now, here’s why every time I have to call tech support, I cringe. And not because I am one. So I call up Del on Monday, because their support site doesn’t have a driver for my built-in wireless card. Not for XP, at least–which, okay, no big deal; it came with Vista, after all. So I check the Vista drivers list, like I’ve been doing with a few other things, and there’s none listed there. So I just flat out asked the technician I spoke to on Monday, “does this machine even come with a driver for the wireless card?” Honest question, and a simple enough yes or no question to be sure–if I were sitting on the *other* end of that conversation, I could have probably told myself one way or another in about a minute and a half. But, not with this guy, who first wanted to spend 5 minutes making *sure* I wasn’t a moron calling up with the misguided belief that, because I got this new fangled desktop thing sitting in my living room, it automaticly comes with a wireless card. Did I mention I pointed out to him at least once I’m employed with Dell, doing things like network troubleshooting on a daily basis? So I know when a computer’s supposed to come with a wireless card–like, say, when in your order information, it says that one was specificly requested. So, we get by that round about, and he finally decides he actually wants to varify whether or not it does. So he tells me to go to their support site–I guess he wasn’t listening when I said I’ve already been there and they don’t have it. He finally just decides to put me on hold and do some “research”–for the record, when a hardware tech says they’re doing some research, you know they’re asking one of their l2’s if this is a good enough reason to transfer them to the Dell on Call department. About 20 minutes go by, and he comes back, saying he can’t find the wireless card on my system. Insert long, exasperated, frustrated sigh, and me telling him, yet again, that it doesn’t give a brand name in the order details, but, and this is where I think I drive the point home that I work for the same company, I tell him the training material *should* say what brand the wireless card option includes for my particular model of computer. Silence. Then he asks to put me on hold again. Another few minutes go by. Presumeably, more “research”. Then he comes back, says he thinks he found the brand and model of the wireless card, the exact details I honestly don’t remember–for the record, when a technician says “I think”, it’s never pretty–and tells me that it looks like the support for that particular model is built directly into Vista. And there are no drivers for XP. So, not wanting to argue the point, I hang up, and plug that particular model into the almighty goog. And sure enough, inside of 10 minutes, I could have called that particular technician a liar. But… rather than openly and blatantly advertising the obvious, I just dinked around a bit, installed a few things I needed to install, and called it a night–I had to work the next night, and it was 5:00 or later in the morning before I finally decided to fall into bed. So it got to sit there until tonight, when I ended up not going to work–thank you, public transportation, for showing up early and thus making me miss the only bus that’d actually get me there before I was well into my shift. So I go back to that computer, figuring if the support is built into one version of Windows, the other version should have *something*. So I do a little fiddling, and sure enough, one wireless driver, for windows XP, located and installed. What was that you were saying about it was only designed to work with Vista? Now, the problem comes up that it’s telling me to make sure the actual card’s turned on. Now, they have a funky little keyboard command where you can do that for laptops, but I wasn’t sure about this particular desktop. Cringing again, I called tech support. Shoulda figured it out myself. First guy first of all had the same hearing problem as the last technician I spoke to, in that it took me 3 tries before he accepted that yes, Dell technician who troubleshoots networking problems on a daily basis does have a wireless router, does have it turned on, and does have it in the next room, well in range of the card that is trying to look for it. All I wanted to know was the one thing he either didn’t know how or didn’t want to tell me–was there a switch or something on the back of the bloody machine to turn the card on manually, or is there a similar command via the keyboard to do so as there is in laptops? He finally at least gets me over to the wireless department, and the girl on the other end actually has a brain. And is using it. If it wasn’t against the rules, I’d of done my own troubleshooting at work when I went in tomorrow… there, I’d at least have access to the same things these people do, and could have found the answer in probably 45 seconds, instead of 45 minutes and 2 technicians. Move on, now, to what I have to get done so I can actually get the antivirus software I’m using set up on my other computer. First requires actually getting the password from Sympatico for my current email address, so I can resurrect a really, really old one I haven’t used since I moved out of Pembroke nearly a year ago. Now, Sympatico uses Microsoft’s hotmail interface–so yes, a uber craptastic service to be sure–to manage their web interface for all things email. So in order to change, create or delete email addresses, I have to log into that craptastic interface. Not an altogether too thrilling experience, to say the least. But, I do it anyway, because for reasons beyond my control, I have to. So I enter my email address, and move onto the next screen to enter my password. And it sits there, loading… and loading… and loading… then shows me the logout screen… then sits there loading… and loading… and loading… eventually, I just said screw it, and closed the window. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do on an unplanned but certainly not unwelcome night off. One of those is not deal with the idiocy of people I have no choice but to trust to keep methods of accessing services I pay for from going tits up. So instead, I shall go drop in on an RPG I haven’t played in forever. I’ll curse at the evil that is Hotmail, and the stupidity that is Sympatico’s decision to join forces with Microsoft, later. For the next hour or so, I’m planning to have fun. Or something.

James 3, Microsoft 0.

And all because of a little CD HP didn’t send me. Round 1, external HD goes on the blink. Or so I thought. Turns out Windows just decided it suddenly didn’t know what it was. Well, after getting frustrated with that, I decided to go right on ahead and start following these instructions figuring, y’know–it isn’t working anyway so how much more can I possibly screw it up? Turns out that fixed it, at least temporarily. But, about… oh I wanna say 3 weeks later, it went kerpoof again. And, in the attempt to see what flopped this time, Windows seemingly forgot where it put the *internal* HD. Brilliant. So, it continuously went through the endless loop of startup, logoff, shutdown, restart. And it decided to play the welcome and logging off sounds repeatedly as it went through, indicating it *could* find at least part of the OS–really, really, anoying… I turned off the speakers after a bit. I screwed with it a bit, then decided to bug Trish and see if she had any ideas–she’s damn near my equal so far as this crap goes, so it made sense. She dinked around with it on her own, got about as far as I did, and I think we both kinda just… randomly decided the thing was getting repaired. Call it the last act of a desperate couple of techs who don’t want to do a complete format. So now, after the repair–for the record, a repair instalation of Windows on a 40 GB HD with 512 MB RAM should *so* not take 2 hours to complete–we’re right back where we started. Except with a working machine. And an apparently missing Internet Explorer–easily cured by the fact it didn’t touch Firefox. So, this little piece of crap lives another day, giving me time to complete the downloads I’d like to complete, and possibly email myself the crap I wanna get off this machine–I don’t plan on keeping this for much longer, since I can get a faster laptop for cheap, even if this thing lasts another 4 years. And with the new email setup now, prompted largely by the near catastrophy I just narrowly avoided, I can actually do that and not run the risk of not being able to pick it up on the other computer–which, for the curious, is now hooked up and just awaiting me to get around to installing the drivers. What can I say? Vista lasted about a minute and a half before the format process kicked in. But that’s in another entry when I don’t feel quite so geeky and want to. This one’s rambling on long enough about things probably only understood by about 2.5 people, with the rest going “Zuh?!?!?!”. So now, I go do stuff. Like… clean. Or sleep. Or laundry. Or watch one of the CSI eppisodes I can now access again, thanks to a now fully functioning external HD. Hm. The possibilities are endless. Should they feel that way on a 4-year-old machine that only barely meets the minimum specs?

Happy June! ‘N such.

This is what happens when I can’t come up with a more creative title. But… who’s counting? Ordinarily I’d be up to my eyeballs in calls… but… thank the gods for system outages, now it’s “we’re updating, call back tomorrow”. And I get paid to just sit here and be all kinds of cute. Or… at least… all kinds of lazy. Lazy is good. Coffee is good. I have no coffee. Entertainment is good. And speaking of entertainment…

Recently the following undocumented Windows 95 error codes were found. Microsoft forgot to explain them in the manuals, so they will be spread via the Internet.
WinErr: 001 Windows loaded – System in danger
WinErr: 002 No Error – Yet
WinErr: 003 Dynamic linking error – Your mistake is now in every file
WinErr: 004 Erroneous error – Nothing is wrong
WinErr: 005 Multitasking attempted – System confused
WinErr: 006 Malicious error – Desqview found on drive
WinErr: 007 System price error – Inadequate money spent on hardware
WinErr: 008 Broken window – Watch out for glass fragments
WinErr: 009 Horrible bug encountered – God knows what has happened
WinErr: 00A Promotional literature overflow – Mailbox full
WinErr: 00B Inadequate disk space – Free at least 50MB
WinErr: 00C Memory hog error – More Ram needed. More! More! More!
WinErr: 00D Window closed – Do not look outside
WinErr: 00E Window open – Do not look inside
WinErr: 00F Unexplained error – Please tell us how this happened
WinErr: 010 Reserved for future mistakes by our developers
WinErr: 011 Window open – Do not look outside
WinErr: 012 Window closed – Do not look inside
WinErr: 013 Unexpected error – Huh ?
WinErr: 014 Keyboard locked – Try anything you can think of.
WinErr: 018 Unrecoverable error – System has been destroyed. Buy a new one. Old Windows licence is not valid anymore.
WinErr: 019 User error – Not our fault. Is Not! Is Not!
WinErr: 01A Operating system overwritten – Please reinstall all your software. We are terribly sorry.
WinErr: 01B Illegal error – You are not allowed to get this error. Next time you will get a penalty for that.
WinErr: 01C Uncertainty error – Uncertainty may be inadequate.
WinErr: 01D System crash – We are unable to figure out our own code.
WinErr: 01E Timing error – Please wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
WinErr: 01F Reserved for future mistakes of our developers.
WinErr: 020 Error recording error codes – Additional errors will be lost.
WinErr: 042 Virus error – A virus has been activated in a dos-box. The virus, however, requires Windows. All tasks will automatically be closed and the
virus will be activated again.
WinErr: 079 Mouse not found – A mouse driver has not been installed. Please click the left mouse button to continue.
WinErr: 103 Error buffer overflow – Too many errors encountered. Additional errors may not be displayed or recorded.
WinErr: 678 This will end your Windows session. Do you want to play another game?
WinErr: 683 Time out error – Operator fell asleep while waiting for the system to complete boot procedure.
WinErr: 815 Insufficient Memory – Only 50.312.583 Bytes available

Exposed! Now the mystery of the later operating systems has been uncovered! Too bad they didn’t do much better with the ridiculousness of the OS’s until XP. Ahem… *cough cough* I’m getting paid to say the exact opposite. But if you’re reading this blog, you probably weren’t on the phone with me as a Dell employee so… um… deal with it. 😉
Yes, I was bored. Again… blame the fact I can’t actually help people with 95% of what they call me about. Go tool outage!

Because I know someone from Microsoft reads this.

New definition of ‘legal battle’, and like everything that’s trying to be redefined lately, Microsoft’s right in the middle of it. Everyone’s already heard about the suing spree Microsoft’s going on so far as piracy charges and such goes. Good luck with that, by the way, Billy. And, speaking of Billy Gates and legal battles, Microsoft is getting sued right back. Antitrust issues really suck, don’t they just? I hope you win your own cases, folks. You’re probably gonna need to to make up for losing this one. And you know you will.

Now this is surprising.

I usually don’t like posting things from sites like Slashdot, but in this case, I’ll make an acception or few because it gives me an excuse to bash Microsoft. Not that they need me to add to the pile of MS bashers, but you know… and people wouldn’t be looking to bash them senseless if they didn’t do something incredibly stupid, like slam the door on antivirus software manufacturers. I dunno just how reliable what’s been referenced here is, but it sounds like a Microsoft thing to do. Kind of like charging $1.50 per download of the new Microsoft Office beta products.

Trillian’s about to get cut out.

Call it a response to programs kinda sorta like Jabber and Trillian if you’re so inclined; I’ll just call it about goddamn time. Microsoft and Yahoo are, apparently, working on a kind of IM partnership. MSN (Windows Live, now, I guess?) Messenger and Yahoo Messenger users will be able to IM each other without having to be actually on the same service. At least, that’s what they’re saying, anyway. *That* is about freaking time. Maybe next they’ll manage to accomplish that with AIM and the much less favourable ICQ, both of which are, of course, owned by AOHell. As much as I’m all for open source thingies, Trillian can now kindly go to hell. That’s one open source program I’ll never use.