So! It’s been a while and I come back with nothing but sad and unhappy stories.
As perhaps some of you knew, my team was one of the UK finalists in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition. As fate wanted, we did not win. We came home, not empty-handed but in a way, empty-hearted. Maybe it is for the best; my team is composed of Master’s students and the workload isn’t comparable. I did not expect to have enough time to make it through to the finals, so maybe it is indeed for the best that someone else won.
Still, we got some loot from this competition! We won a magnificent Microsoft LifeCam HD and a superb Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000, with the new BlueTrack technology! Last but not least, we also got a diploma signed by Bill Gates himself! Quite good huh?
Unfortunately I cannot post many details from this visit to Microsoft’s campus in Reading as we were all forced to sign an NDA to prevent us from leaking the latest details. All that I can say is that I’ve tried a Windows Phone 7 and it’s amazing. It’s a complete break with Windows Mobile and it is definitely a great break. From my experience I can say that the OS still feels a bit unpolished on certain aspects like image handling, but that’s to be expected as it hasn’t even been released yet. I also got to try a Microsoft Surface in person and whoa…. it’s quite an amazing experience and I quite like the applications they have to showcase it. Perhaps the only disappointing factor is that it doesn’t use either resistive or capacitive technologies, but instead it resorts to a projection and five cameras to detect touches. That is why it is such a tall device.
We also got a nice presentation by a gentleman from Lionhead Studios but unfortunately they had really strong feelings about the NDA and I am really not supposed to say anything about that!
Moving on to the next topic there’s… volcano ash! Namely Eyjafjallajökull’s ash. This is the name of the very nasty Icelandic volcano that has stopped me from going back to Portugal for my well deserved holidays. I had a flight booked for the 16th which got cancelled, then I rebooked it for today (the 19th) and again it got cancelled, and right now I have it booked for this Friday, hoping that things will look better in a few days.
The latest news on this is that the volcano comes from the UK Met Office (check image) and they tell us that it has actually stopped erupting and that maybe now the skies will start clearing.
Well, truth to be told this had to happen at some point. According to the good folks at Engadget, T-Mobile has most probably lost the data of their customers’ Sidekick phones. The T-Mobile Sidekick is a device that relies heavily on cloud-computing and simple things such as looking up contacts or reading old text messages are done through servers in the cloud (that is to say, in the Internet). So if these servers fail for some reason, or more extremely (like it happened) lose all the data they contain, then the end user is pretty much screwed.
I hope for the sake of the costumers that the data isn’t just lost; I would have also hoped that T-Mobile had off-site, offline backups of all this stuff but that clearly does not seem to be the case. It is also up to our imagination whom to blame for this. Of course that for all the people affected by this problem, T-Mobile will be the one to blame, but whose fault was it in the end? Is it a bug in the servers? Will it happen again? Has it been patched?
Doesn’t really matter now but here’s the morale of the story: ALWAYS keep backups of your data.
Having recently tried Mac OS X and all of it Exposé and Spaces goodness, I couldn’t help but to notice that Aero Peek feels like a complete rip off of the Exposé feature. Don’t take me wrong though, it is not a critic. I am of the opinion that progress can only be made if we pick the best bits and pieces out of everything that is out there and put it all into one package. So while Windows still has a long way to go on user experience matters, I see this as a move forward.
Still, Aero Peek came with an annoyance for me: it takes too damn long! Basically, when you activate Exposé on a Mac (either by having a shortcut or by hovering over a hot corner) you instantly get to your desktop and can see what’s underneath – with Aero Peek this takes at least one or two seconds which isn’t ideal for me by any stretch.
With that in mind, and since there does not seem to be that much documentation about this yet, Microsoft allows you to adjust that delay time with some registry hacking. To adjust the delay, do the following:
Open regedit (Start -> regedit -> press enter)
Go to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced
Once here, create a new DWORD (32 bit) entry with the name DesktopLivePreviewHoverTime and set it to whatever time you’d like in milliseconds. I found that 100 works best for me but I will leave that at your own discretion.
Now I’m back to testing Windows 7 RTM – have a good one!
With the advent of Microsoft’s latest operating system, the Windows 7, many people have come to state that Windows 7 is Windows Vista doneright. Well, excuse me tech whizzes but as an IT professional myself, I beg to differ.
Windows Vista was a massive stepping stone in Microsoft’s history. It was the first upgrade from the ever so loved Windows XP, that admittedly had its flaws at birth but it grew to become perhaps the most stable operating system that Microsoft had built until then. It is lightweight and to prove that we have the netbook market share that is dominated by Microsoft.
Now, we have to be analytic. What did Vista bring to the table when compared to XP? In a very brief and sketchy approach, it brought cleanliness to the user folders (no one really liked the spaces in ‘Documents and Settings’), it brought UAC that albeit poorly-loved, it brought with it a great layer of security, it brought some driver modifications including a redesigned sound-stack and these last two put together with the bloated memory usage, made Vista Microsoft’s bastard child.
Well, when you look at it closely, pretty much every Vista driver will work on Windows 7, including the soundcard drivers. UAC is also part of Windows 7 and has been partly redesigned so that it isn’t so naggy. Still, my bottom line is that when switching from XP, Microsoft was always going to get complaints. When you add security, people will complain because the system is more restrictive. When you add features that change the way people interface with the computer, people will complain because we have an inertial nature and are typically against change.
However, now that Vista was Microsoft’s escape goat for all the changes that simply had to be made, Windows 7 can come in its shinning armour and save the day. Because Windows 7 is so much better than Vista, even though it’s actually Vista, just lighter.
Jeremy Allison over at ZDNet has just posted an article where in a nutshell he states that Microsoft broke the interoperability of the ODF format between Office 2007 and other implementations of this format. According to this gentleman, the guys over at Microsoft are mean little bastards because they implemented the ODF standard verbatim. Whoa, whoa, whoa little Timmy!
Last I checked, there was a war going on towards Microsoft because they were mean chauvinistic bastards who insisted on not making Internet Explorer more standards compliant, because the standards were the way to go and anything other than the standards just breaks pages on browsers that implement the standard. I totally agree with this point, but by the same measure, I have to disagree with this ODF quarrel.
With SP2, Microsoft implemented the ODF specification to its fullest. Then there are other implementations like OpenOffice’s that have additions to the specification, but that aren’t part of the standard! Yet, it is Microsoft that people come out to the streets to criticize, and not the people who engineered a poorly designed standard. Please, don’t take me wrong. I am also against OOXML, but that doesn’t mean that the alternatives are perfect and perhaps Microsoft is just proving a point amongst narrow-minded people who don’t care for a little reasoning.
Want spreadsheets to properly support formulas in ODF? Make it part of the friggin’ standard! Don’t expect Microsoft to deviate from the standard for interop’s sake, especially now when you have before criticized the company for not being standards-compliant.
My bottom-line is: who is to decide whether a standard should be implemented in a strict manner or not? And to which extent should interop efforts be made? All in all, if Microsoft designs interoperability towards OpenOffice, it might just break things with another Office Suite that decided to implement things differently.
Hold your horses, this isn’t a flaw per se. There isn’t a massive hole in Windows 7 that allows the execution of malicious code. Instead, there’s a legacy feature that has been around ever since Windows 98 (maybe even 95, but that I do not know for sure) that is used by virus writers to fool users into executing their viruses.
The feature I am talking about is the ability to hide the extension for known file types. This comes enabled by default on XP and Vista and it was not addressed in Windows 7. Basically, as Adrian over at ZDNet reports, with this feature enabled, a file with ‘double extension’ can easily be fooled for its fake extention. For example, a file named Report.txt.exe will automatically have the ‘.exe’ extension hidden, and to the eyes of the less computer-savvy it can easily be mistaken for an innocent Report.txt file. Moreso when the creator of the virus is careful enough to add an innocent notepad icon to the malevolent application.
To be perfectly honest, I agree with Adrian. This is a feature that I disable right after I install Windows. More often than not I find myself having to change the extension of a file, and it’s impossible to do so with this feature enabled and without resorting to the command line.
This feature is dangerous and it has been the gateway for many viruses to spread. Adrian also suggests adding some sort of overlay to the icons of executable files that aren’t digitally signed – this is an incredibly good idea. Maybe something glarey as the icons of running applications on the new Windows 7 start bar. If properly done, this could be flashey and would cause a good impression on end-users, both visually and safety-wise. Personally, I would remove the feature altogether and leave it off – and please, without the possibility of working around it on the registry – but that’s just my two pennies worth of opinion.
Alright ladies and gentlemen, the announcement is out: the first (and hopefully only) Release Candidate of the newest, mind blowing, operating system from the folks at Redmond is out. Or is it really? There’s a Microsoft Partners’ page announcing the event and I say that that’s as reliable as it gets.
According to said page, the RC should be available right now for MSDN and TechNet subscribers but well… it ain’t. The same page also announces that a global (and I guess, public) release will be done on May 5th which is actually pretty close in time.
My guess is that we just sit and wait, and that within the day, this RC will be made available on the MSDN downloads page. Or so I hope.
Finally, this release is more coherent with Ed Bott’s speculative timeline over at ZDNet which places the Windows 7 RTM release on late August of 2009. At this point, we just wait and see – being a 7 Beta user, I am happy and borderline ecstatic to get a RC release so soon. Way to go, Microsoft!
Yep, that is right indeed, I have one of such babies. Privileges of being a Microsoft Student Partner huh? It does have its downturns as well though, such as when I go out of my house, there’s a massive crowd waiting to get my autograph and to interview me… (not really…)
But that’s just it, just wanted to share my shiny new subscriptor card with you readers and have you envy it. Yes, now I have Vista Ultimate for free, and who knows, maybe Windows 7 too, when it gets out…
My apologies for having gone through a period without posting at all but, my life has been undergoing some maintenance (all for good, I assure you! but won’t get into specifics) and therefore I haven’t been coming here as often as I would like. This is however going to change and so, expect to see more regular posting from now on.
That’s right, this will after all be the official name of the next Windows version. According to Mike Nash on the Windows Vista blog, Microsoft is sticking with the simple name Windows 7, therefore cutting with the “aspirational monikers” that they have used in the past like Windows XP or Vista.
The same person writes that this is the seventh release of Windows, hence the naming Windows 7.
Another source tells us that a pre-beta version of this new Windows will be distributed at the Professional Developer Conference, set to take place on Los Angeles on October 27th.