Lift A Finger?

I’ve mentioned before that I have pet peeves around driving.  And I recently saw a bumper sticker that reminded me that I’m not alone:
“Forget About World Peace / Visualize Using Your Turn Signals”

Actually, I saw it again, but in a new way   At a glance it’s just snarky, and I’m all about snark.  But bad driving begets traffic jams, and time to reflect on the bumper stickers in front of you…

Everyone’s an armchair general of world politics, and these days everyone has a soapbox for that too (yay Facebook).  But I only see 1/3 of Cincinnati drivers use their indicators to signal their turns or lane changes.  (And I think 1/3 is generous).  It’s surely the easiest effort in driving.

Literally, only 1/3rd of the world will LIFT A FINGER for safer driving.

I found this realization depressing for a few days, but I’ve decided it should be a Jeremiad, or a harsh reminder to do better:
The little stuff matters.   Before asking everyone else for a better world, Lift A Finger to start making it happen.  

 

Decrapify NCH VideoPad

NCH VideoPad is an excellent “free” video editor.

I would recommend VideoPad heartily if NCH didn’t crap on their own work.

But unfortunately “free” needs those scare quotes, because its installer just behaves badly.  Here’s how, and my answer to each:

  1. The installer tries to sneak on several irrelevant crapware apps.
    → This is unfortunately common.  Always click “custom” and uncheck the extras.
  2. Without notice or permission, it pollutes your start menu with web links to other products.
    → Less common, but easy to just delete.
  3. It gets worse: The add context menu links which prompt you to download and install their Express Zip tool.
    → Download ShellMenuView to remove the menu entries.
  4. The topper: It associates a raft of file extensions to their “Install On Demand Component”.  So when you click on a .DOC or PDF file, you don’t get Word/Wordpad or Adobe Reader, you get railroaded into downloading and installing their Doxillion app.
    → Nobody else had an answer, so I tracked down the registry entries to remove.  Here’s what it looks like as a .reg file:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\docfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\docxfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\NitroPDFReader.Document.3\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\odtfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\rtffile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\wpdfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]
    [-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\wpfile\Shell\NCHconvertdoc]

    (Save as a reg file and run it, or manually delete those paths yourself.)

It’s a shame — VideoPad has a paid premium version with more features, and I would recommend it heartily if NCH didn’t crap on their own work.

Possible alternative: it looks like <a href=”http://portableapps.com/node/19682″>you can make VideoPad Portable.</a>  That certainly keeps it clean.

 

Dear Acer: It’s your own fault

So Microsoft is about to sell its own hardware running Windows.    And Acer is unhappy, because Microsoft is effectively competing with its own partners.

Now, working for a Microsoft Partner, I can understand the feeling.  I have my beefs with Microsoft, like how they’ve just disenfranchised Small Business Specialists and cut down Small Business Server at the knees
(The 30-day discontinuation of SBS on SA is really throwing us for a loop now, since we relied on TechSoup to provide affordable solutions to non-profits, and Techsoup only has SA software, not OEM).

But consider this:

Acer and their ilk have been making Windows suck.

How so?   What do you think you should get to do after first powering up your brand-new computer?   Hours manually uninstalling paid Norton or McAfee trials, a dozen manufacturer addons, and a dozen more partner promotions?   Me either.    Here’s our experience:

  • Once upon a time, we manually removed the junk, as a labor of love. 
  • A few years ago we started using PC-Decrapifier to help automate the process, followed by CCleaner for the remnants.  Down to an hour or so…
  • Last year, we started wiping the (brand new) systems, and scratch installing from Microsoft’s own media.   It’s some upfront work, but actually faster, and the result is so much better.  (The only downside is tracking down weird laptop drivers).

 

Last week we bought an Acer netbook, and (for some crazy reason) gave their install a shot.   After powering up and doing some standard Windows configuration, Acer started their first-run customization process .   Now I’ve done this a LOT, and know this process should take about minute or two.  

Instead, it took 45 minutes, and crashed with a BSOD.

Then, after finally getting past “buy me” promos, it was sluggish.   Task Manager showed 35% CPU gone to a McAfee trial, and 67% RAM used overall, when I HAD RUN NO PROGRAMS YET.   Did we buy a pet to run for our amusement, and do nothing useful?

 

Dear Acer, I don’t like the idea of Microsoft taking their ball back either, but you dropped it, and someone’s gotta run the bases.  

 

P.S.  Also noteworthy about the Microsoft shift is that’s how Apple sells:  unified software AND hardware.  Other criticisms aside, Apple delivers a pretty tight package. 

WTH: Live Essentials 2011 on Microsoft Update

 

Microsoft says its Important that I get the Bing Bar…
2010-11-07_wu_wtf1
(and a dozen other whatnots, all of which will increase the security surface area of my system)

…but it’s just optional that I have current security software?!?
image

 

What the heck??

 

To be clear, I do not recommend installing Live Essentials unless you see something in that list which really interests you.  I use and do like Live Writer, which is my preference for publishing to this blog.

 

2010-12-18 UPDATE:

I found the cause, in a setting I hadn’t noticed before:
"Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates"

When I uncheck it, Recommended Updates get moved from the Important category back to Optional.

I’m not sure when or how this got set, but I’ve noticed other brand-new machines do the same thing.  Is this the new default?

Google Report a Spam Result

Submitted to http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html

Exact query that shows a problem (copy this from the Google search box):
Technet Plus -vs- Action Pack

Resulting Google page that shows problem (copy the Google URL):
http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS291&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Technet+Plus+-vs-+action+pack

The specific web page or site that is misbehaving: Type(s) of problem (check all that apply):
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Applications/Q_23272956.html

Type(s) of problem (check all that apply):


Cloaked page

Additional details:
To Firefox or Internet Explorer user-agent strings, http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Applications/Q_23272956.html shows its registration page.  "View this solution now by starting your 7-day free trial…" at the bottom under Accepted solution.  The real answer content is NOT on the page.

But when I switch my browser’s UA string to Googlebot, it shows the real answer content which was in the Google search results.  This is deceptive to users, dilutes Google’s search relevance, and and violates your Webmaster Guidlines at http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66355

NOTE: SOMEtimes Experts-exchange.com DOES show the answer at the bottom, so please test from a variety of IPs and browsers.

Interestingly, it’s no new problem and Google is aware of but ignoring it?  Maybe if more people fill out the form to complain…?

Eliza finds a new job as Microsoft’s PartnerBot

I saw Matt McSpirit‘s posting about Microsoft’s new PartnerBot IM agent and contest, and gave it a whirl.  The result was a bit disappointing, and then went downhill:

(4:45:55 PM) me: How can I combine SQL instances on SBS 2003?
(4:45:56 PM) MS PartnerBot: Welcome back…
Do you want more on How to buy SQL Server or SQL Server Product information?
(4:46:00 PM) me: no
(4:46:00 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’m sorry I couldn’t help – please try again
(4:46:16 PM) me: I’ll just ask Google.com instead
(4:46:16 PM) MS PartnerBot: Component Object Model
(4:46:20 PM) me: What?
(4:46:21 PM) MS PartnerBot: Partner Bot is unable to answer your query, please try again.
(4:46:30 PM) me: Like I said, Google will help.
(4:46:31 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’ll try to help – please type your question
(4:46:40 PM) me: No thanks.
(4:46:40 PM) MS PartnerBot: You’re welcome, please come back soon.
(4:46:55 PM) me: (for nothing)
(4:46:56 PM) MS PartnerBot: I cannot help you yet, could you refine your search?
(4:47:03 PM) me: Who’s asking the questions here?
(4:47:03 PM) MS PartnerBot: I’m sorry I can’t find that name in my directory – please try the Outlook Address Book
(4:47:17 PM) me: Ok.
(4:47:18 PM) MS PartnerBot: Partner Bot can’t understand your question. Please rephrase it.
(4:47:32 PM) me: Who is the Heartland District’s partner representative?
(4:47:33 PM) MS PartnerBot: Our partners are our priority – we want to help you develop and grow your business. Please visit the programme membership page at http://partner.microsoft.com/uk/40014052.
(4:47:43 PM) me: Why don’t you show me that information here?
(4:47:43 PM) MS PartnerBot: In a competitive environment, having the right business intelligence can be the deciding factor in closing a deal. Gain a competitive edge with the information your customer needs to make a decision in your favour. Learn more at: https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/40018122
(4:47:58 PM) me: You’re Eliza, aren’t you?
(4:47:59 PM) MS PartnerBot: I am Partner Bot – code with attitude. Please type your question.
(4:48:04 PM) me: ha

“Code with attitude” — if only it was helpful too.

This is Broken

That’s not only the name of a great website on the subject, but also my reaction to this bank website‘s web browser choices:

I let em know how silly this is:

Your choices of web browsers are VERY outdated, by about 10 years!

The main CURRENT web browsers are:
* Internet Explorer
* Mozilla Firefox
* Opera
* Apple Safari
* Konqueror

Take a look at http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat.htm for current browser stats sometime.

Just a heads-up from a web developer. Hope it helps you get it together.

They also offer Unix as a choice of Computer Type, but not Linux.  Even worse: it’s a screen for requesting technical support.  (I sure hope their techs know Mosaic well!!)

Along those lines, I just noticed that this month is the 4th anniversary of IE6.  Happy Birthday, IE!