Friday, 04 June 2004

I've been installing and testing builds of Windows XP SP2 for a while now, and while I should and will not go into any real detail about that here, let's just say I had a need to use a command-line switch on the installer for the latest version yesterday, but it didn't quite do what I needed/expected.

I mentioned that fact to my friend Travis, who came up with some ideas for command line switches that he says should be applied to all products.

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Humor | Tech
Friday, 04 June 2004 14:12:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 03 June 2004

Checking in on the industry between calls, found this news item from yesterday, related to Microsoft's security “tour” program they running right now:

Discussing how some have tried to position security efforts as potentially beneficial to the bottom line, Microsoft chief security officer Scott Charney admitted he was cynical. "Security is a cost center. If there were no attacks, no one would bother," he told a few hundred IT professionals at the event.

So true. Sure, beefing up security is important, required, beneficial and prudent in this day and age. But the fact of the manner is if there was no pain, we would not be spending big bucks in this area.

It's also worth noting that - in reality - a relatively small amount of preventative planning in this area today can save huge numbers of reactive dollars tomorrow and after. Security budgets are important. They may look expensive to some, but when you consider the potential costs on not preventing problems, the downside could be very costly, indeed.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 03 June 2004 08:39:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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< Cue cheesy commercial music >

This dad did it on eBay.
(PDF available for when the original exprires).

I had to laugh at this one when I saw it, but at the same time I was rooting this guy on and mentally wishing him the best from afar. I know this dad is dealing with something serious.


Heheh... He's certainly being creative and making what sounds like a serious point. At least one father out there who's willing to punish his 13-year-old son for misbehavior that matters (a lot) in the kid's present and future life. Hopefully this is just the beginning of the additional parental attention for that kid.

Father's Day season doesn't always need to be happy - it does needs to be real.

Thanks to Dave for the link.

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Humor | Random Stuff
Thursday, 03 June 2004 07:34:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Have you heard about Windows Automotive? It's for real.

Chris Sells says: “Microsoft Car .NET -- If the reality is anything like the concept videos, I want it!”

Yeah, cool stuff. A lot of what Microsoft's put into their Office of the Future concept system up in Redmond (which anyone who ever gets the invitation should check out). But I could not help but think that if the guy was not spending so much time with his computer in the first place, he might have remembered to pick up his daughter on his own...

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Wednesday, 02 June 2004 23:17:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 02 June 2004

The United States Patent and Trademark Office never ceases to amaze. Working as an intellectual property litigation attorney will be the biggest, fattest, most lucrative cash cow of a position of the next ten years, mark my words. Here's why:

According to a bunch of people on the Internet (here's one), it looks like Microsoft has patented the double-click. No joke. Wow.

Now, I'm a Microsoft fan, and I make no qualms about saying so - but this is going a little far, isn't it? I mean, this is amazing, really (and it has to be true, it's on the freakin' Internet!) Probably most shocking thing about it is that the patent was granted within the past month or two.

Or is it really that big of a deal???

Articles have been posted on the Internet, predictably describing this as a completely out of control situation. But, when you read the patent, it's not exactly as some might have you believe. In reality:

  • The patent is primarily related to hand-held devices (I'd feel a little better if it was limited to handheld devices, though).
  • The patent application states that the invention “relates generally to computer systems, and more particularly to increasing the functionality of application buttons on a limited resource computing device.”
  • It describes the way an application or the OS on the device determines what kind of soft-key press has occurred, generally short, long, or multi-press events.
  • From the patent: “As those skilled in the art will appreciate from the following description, while the invention is ideally suited for incorporation in a palm-type computing device and is described in such a device, the invention can be incorporated in other limited resource devices and systems, for example mobile devices such as pagers and telephones.”

Okay, so while it may be a little surprising, it's hard to say this is truly a patent on the use of the double-click action in any computing application. But it is pretty broad-reaching, and as always open to interpretation and challenge. Which gets expensive, every time it has to be litigated or challenged (see “cash cow,” above). Especially for smaller companies without major corporate resources.

And Microsoft has made no secret of it's position that there are thing it's invented (or at least claims to have invented) and for which it's recently been issued patents. The FAT file system and ClearType technologies are two recent examples, and Microsoft (some would say rightfully) has also stated publicly that it intends to pursue completion of patents to protect and increase its earnings. And even though it's a big company with big profits, that's no reason to start yelling about how they already make too much money. Whether it's the first dollar earned or the trillionth, it's not about how much, it's about who's idea it was in the first place. If Microsoft can't own ideas that are truly theirs, neither can Apple, IBM, my employer, or anyone else - whether they be big, small, corporation, or individual.

But hey - you don't really need Microsoft to be amazed. All we seem to need is the U.S. Government Patent and Trademark Office. At least recently.

Well, there is one positive thing to take away from all this: If it makes you smile, it's at least a little bit good for you (even if you do shake your head at the same time). :-)

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Random Stuff | Tech | Things that Suck
Wednesday, 02 June 2004 21:32:48 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The final release of Windows Media Player 10 was done on September 2, 2004. Click here for more.

Note: Judging by the number of search referrers from Google and Yahoo that point to this entry with “uninstall windows media player 10” in the referrer address, here is a starting point that hopefully will help - but the linked pages are not my advice, and I make no warranty of any kind:

Support Newsgroups at Microsoft for Windows Media Player 10 Beta
Thread: Uninstalling 10 to 9
Thread: Can't use/uninstall WMP10

Who would have thought my web log entry would be first on Google for that phrase? Crazy...

And a quick (not quite as helpful) note to people who installed and are having problems: This is beta software, blatantly labeled as such, so a bug-free experience should be the exception, not the rule. In other words, no surprise whatsoever that it's glitchy. That said, please use the newsgroup link above and post your issues with helpful and descriptive language. Remember the newsgroups are for getting help and reporting problems, so don't flame, but be complete in the info you provide. For a list of the information you should provide, look here. Help make the next version better - earn your whining privilege. ;-)

Microsoft today announced the technical beta of Windows Media Player 10. Anyone can download and give it a whirl, so long as you're running Windows XP.

Just keep in mind, it's beta software, and so your mileage may vary, especially if you need to uninstall or roll back and use protected media files, so player beware. Be sure to read the release notes before you install. Miracle of miracles, and something I have noticed we are seeing more and more often, thank goodness: No reboot required!

Looks like end-to-end media usability, from file to device synchronization, is the goal here. They're playing up advanced support for a big variety of media devices, which is to be expected after all the announcements recently about media-anywhere products.

I did get a broken image in the UI, and the streaming appears to be a WinMedia v9 experience. I noted tabs in the player named “Rip” and “Burn,” and direct support for these. In fact, everything is generally well laid out and easy to find, which is nice.

The interface is sleeker and easier to get around in. It was nice to fire it up and not have to download the funky HTML content on a “Guide” page - by default it started in the “Now Playing” (play-list) mode. Cool.

I don't do a lot of online media purchasing yet, but there's built-in support for online stores (presently there are links to Napster and In the player, a static page describes a new “digital media mall” concept, where a variety of stores will be available to download, stream, rent or purchase media content.

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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Wednesday, 02 June 2004 21:05:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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