Archive for the 'windows' Category

Canon Pixima iP1600 Error 5100

My wife was trying to print something the other night, and she was complaining that the printer was broken. I figured out what the problem was for me, so I’m posting this in case others have the same sort of problem (the answers I found on the web weren’t all that readable, and I spent a good ten minutes reading bits and pieces of answers to piece them all together).

So, I trudged down to the office to check it out, and sure enough, it wasn’t printing.

It was giving me an odd error that I wasn’t used to… and said something to the effect of:

Error 5100: Please turn the power off on this unit and turn it back on, and if you still have problems consult the User Manual.

So, I turned it off, and then back on again, and tried to print. Same error.

So, off to Google I went (we got this printer three years ago, and I couldn’t begin to tell you where the user manual is).

I searched Google for canon pixima 1600 error 5100

And I read this results page, which looked helpful:

FixYourPrinter.com: Canon i550 Service Error 5100

And another results page that took me to a Yahoo! Answers page, which was only midly helpful.

Long story short, something was likely wrong with the printer carriage bar… or something was jammed that was causing the print head to not advance all the way across the bar like it should.

I totally believed that, knowing that I have a 3 year old that is most-likely playing with the printer from time to time when we aren’t looking.

So, I opened up the front cover, and sure enough, the print cartridges weren’t seated well, and one of them was hitting the underside of the cover about three-quarters of the way across.

So, I re-seated all of them, and then turned the printer off and on again, and did a nozzle-check print test. It printed fine. So, back to the computer to resume the print job, and viola… no more printer error.

On those other results pages, they mention things like “cleaning the carriage bar” or “checking for stuff jammed in the printer” so, if reseating your printer cartridges doesn’t work, keep looking for things that would cause the printing head carriage (the thing the print cartridges sit in) to not function properly.

Good luck.

Word of the week: frigtards

I gotta figure out how to use this word spotted in a recent Daring Fireball ‘Jackass of the Week’ article:

frigtard – as in “socially maladjusted frigtards”.

Love it.

Intelligent design of playlists

Intelligent design of playlists

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No more Jukebox

The Austin American-Statesman reports:

Dell exits MP3 business
Computer maker quietly discontinues the last of its digital music players.
By Dan Zehr
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dell Inc. quietly axed the last of its digital music players last week, pulling the DJ Ditty from its Web site and leaving the MP3 business to Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod and its challengers.

The company had discontinued its hard-disk Digital Jukebox, or DJ, players in February, but it continued to carry the flash-memory-based Ditty until Aug. 17.

Dell began selling MP3 players in 2003. Its last model, the DJ Ditty, was discontinued last week.

Dell will continue to sell MP3 players from other companies, including SanDisk Corp., iRiver Inc., Samsung and Creative Technology Ltd.

“We chose to invest our resources elsewhere,” spokesman Venancio Figueroa said. “We’re going to put our emphasis in our core areas of PCs, printers and TVs.”

Apple and its iPods have dominated the MP3 player market, accounting for roughly three of every four digital music players sold, according to NPD Techworld analyst Stephen Baker. SanDisk has started to find some small cracks in iPod’s dominance, holding about 10 percent of the market, Baker said.

Microsoft Corp. hopes to make a splash in the market with its Zune entertainment devices and software due out later this year. The line will include a digital music player equipped with Wi-Fi to wirelessly download music, the company confirmed last month.

Given the way the market has moved, a digital music player “doesn’t seem to fit (Dell’s) model,” Baker said, and that’s especially the case if Microsoft finds success with Zune.

Dell entered the MP3 market with its own products in late 2003 but hasn’t had its heart fully into the digital music business for some time. Executives had complimented Apple on the iPod’s success but said MP3 players weren’t a vital part of Dell’s business.

“It’s not a big focus for us,” Chairman Michael Dell told University of Texas students in April. “We’re more focused on storage-area networks and high-performance computing than MP3 players.”

[email protected]; 912-5932

Heh… Guess they decided it was time to get off the pot.

XP Tweak

Use Windows XP? Read this: My Favorite XP Tweak. It’s a great little XP Tweak that speeds things up a lot, or at least makes it feel faster. Also, there’s a gem about how to set the folders to “details” view all the time.

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Get rid of Thumbs.db

Get rid of Thumbs.db – I hate Thumbs.db.

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Switch from Windows XP to Mac OSX with Ease

Switch from Windows XP to Mac OSX with Ease

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BootCamp Reaction

My favorite reaction to Apple BootCamp announcement is this one from FuckedCompany.com:

Hell’s doors are now open

Apple’s new Boot Camp software will allow Mac users to run Windows XP.
When: 4/5/2006
Company: Apple Computer Inc
Severity: 30
Points: 130
Discuss in the Happy Fun Slander Corner

Yes, I still read F’dCompany… you don’t? It reminds me of the good old days… ;)

update: Don’t miss these pieces on Boot Camp too:

Boot Camp First Look: Half Life 2 Video + More from Cabel at Panic.

Obligaory NYTimes article

Vista Slips again

Sorry Scoble, gotta go here after I read this:

“I’d rather have a slipped date than a cruddy product.”

Problem with Microsoft’s OS is that typically you get both. – Zing!

speed up windows

Make Your Windows Fast As Never Before! – lots of great little tips for Windows users.

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The Most Downloaded Konfabulator Widgets

The Most Downloaded Konfabulator Widgets – good list if you’re a Konfabulator fan.

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Windows on Intel OS X

Run Windows on your Intel OS X Box – at near native speeds supposedly. Cool!

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Comparison Shopping

Apples to Apples and Apples to Oranges – a comparison chart showing the new MacBook Pro (stupid name) to the latest Powerbook version, as well as to an Acer with pretty comparable specs. Interesting. update: you should also read this little post noting all the new stuff that’s missing on the MacBook Pro (did I mention that’s a stupid name?)

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Dell Customer Service …

I’ve been tempted by the Dell pricepoint on some of their larger LCD monitors, but in this post, Jeremy details one example of why I won’t buy Dell just because they’re cheap. They’re cheap for a reason folks. Enough bad stories like this one, and less and less people will buy Dell, too…

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Printing from a Windows XP PC to a printer attached to an Airport Extreme Base Station or Airport Express

Printing from a Windows XP PC to a printer attached to an Airport Extreme Base Station or Airport Express – Now I can print to the Canon photo printer from my IBM thinkpad… too cool!

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Quicktime Alternative

Quicktime Alternative for Windows

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Windows XP Tips

Great list of Windows XP Tips here.

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Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips in Windows XP

HOW TO: Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips in Windows XP – quite possibly the most useful tip a Windows user could ever find.

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Shitty Ditty

Gruber does it again (brings a smile to my face) with his witty analysis of the Dell DJ Ditty

14. Sit back and recall, with tremendously smug satisfaction, a decade’s worth of tech industry punditry holding that superior design would never get Apple anywhere, and that Apple should instead, you know, be more like Dell.

Enter the Dell 2405FPW

Enter the Dell 2405FPW – looks like a really nice 24″ LCD monitor… with Dell pricing… I might have to look into this one…

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Cannot import vCalendar file.

WTF?

I downloaded a vCalendar file from the Hilton website onto my Powerbook, after booking a hotel room.

I then emailed the vCal file to my WindowsXP machine. I saved the file to my desktop, then doubleclicked it to open it in Outlook and save it. I got this error message:

Cannot import vCalendar file errort message

Here’s the transcript of the discussion I had with my WindowsXP box:

self: Hmmm…
self: So, I can’t import the file. Okay.
WindowsXP: “… recurring Lunar appointment …”
self: What is that?
WindowsXP: “To avoid this error, set the appointment option to Gregorian instead of Lunar.”
self: Ok, I’ll do that (why am I wasting my time with this crap?) Let’s click the “More information…” link to see if we can find a way to do that in Windows.

So, I click the link.

And after about 2 minutes, I get this error:

Can't find watson.microsoft.com.

WTF?

Why can’t a Windows error message contain a link that works?

So, I go to Hilton.com, check my reservation and download the vCalendar file again straight into Outlook from there. I don’t have time to troubleshoot this crap.

That’s the anti-thesis of the Macintosh “It just works” mantra.

GoogleOS

Interesting perspective: The GoogleOS runs on Windows

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Google Talk on other IM clients

How-to get Google Talk working on other clients – from Google of course.

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Google Desktop 2.0

Brand New: Google Desktop 2.0 – looks pretty damned useful. I’ll install this tomorrow. Hat-tip to TUGW. Funny that Windows doesn’t have this built in yet… Spotlight and the Dashboard both rock on a Mac. When does Vista come out again Scoble?

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Outlook 2003 and Ram issues

Did You Know? “If you are using Outlook 2003, and have more than 1GB of RAM available on your machine, you may encounter problems with Outlook. This is a known issue in Outlook, and a fix for this will be available shortly from the Outlook team. To avoid this problem, you can remove memory so that your computer has 1GB of less of RAM, or you can disable memory above 1GB.”

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iGo Juice from Mobility Electronics is busted

I just sent this email to the customer service folks at Mobility Electronics:

TO: [email protected]
FROM: [email protected]
SUBJECT: Juice Problems
DATE: October 21, 2004

I bought a Juice product through Amazon.com about a year and a half ago, and lately I’ve noticed that it hasn’t been charging my laptop very reliably… then, today I plugged in my cellphone to it, and noticed that it wasn’t charging the cell phone, but that the cell phone was getting charged for a few seconds, then not, then was, then not, ad infinutum. So, I looked at the connections and the power brick piece, and the blue LED that indicates that the power brick is plugged in was blinking.

What should I do? Is the power brick busted? Can I buy a new one, or fix the old one?

I’m not looking for a total freebie here, though I didn’t expect a $120 power solution to break in a year, but I am looking for some guidance.

Thanks,
John

I’ll post an update when I hear back from them, but if you own a Juice power adapter, or buy an iGo, treat it gingerly… mine’s busted after a year and a half or so…

Funny thing is, I was just telling a buddy of mine at work how cool they are, and how useful they are for travel purposes… Just my luck it dies after I started evangelizing it.

Airport Express and Rendezvous for Windows

Last night I bought two Airport Express units from Fry’s Electronics. I did this, because I finally surfed on an 802.11g base station over at my buddies house last week and was amazed at the speed of the connection.

I had been using an 802.11b Airport that I bought when they first came out (years ago), and I had been happy with it, but the speed of the Linksys 802.11g unit was pretty darned fast…

I was looking to buy an Airport Extreme Base Station and an Airport Express, but Fry’s was all out of the Extreme Base Stations (interestingly, so is Amazon.com).

Anyways, I bought two Express units, figuring I can always use the spare on the road, and can use it to share my printer between my various Macs on the network, and the Thinkpad I got at the new job last week.

So, this morning, I got the two Express units up and running, configured them with the Powerbook (took all of 5 minutes) and attached the printer. Then I got the printer working from the Powerbook, and started trying to add the printer — It wasn’t in the list of printers available to add to the Thinkpad, so I searched google for information on “sharing Airport Express printer +windows” and found this page, which sent me to Rendezvous for Windows Technology Preview.

I downloaded the Rendezvous for Windows Tech Preview, installed it, then installed the Epson drivers from Epson’s website, and Baam! I’m now using the Thinkpad to print via Airport Express on the Epson…

Thanks Apple for making it easy.

Converted

My best friend from high-school got an iBook this week for his 3rd wedding anniversary. What a kick ass wife!

So, now he’s got a Desktop PC in his home office, next to a wireless base-station and a 14″ iBook. Just for reference, I called it a year ago in a post about iTunes and the iPod. His experience with the iPod made him want to buy an iBook instead of a windows based laptop.

Congrats Josh, and here’s proof that the iPod is doing a lot more than helping Apple make money on music. They just sold an iBook because of one.

Installing the Windows XP SP2 Update?

I sent an email to my company’s IT department Tuesday. It said:

The little “windows update” icon popped up in my system tray today, and I learned that XP SP2 is now available to me as an update. Do you want me to install the update?

I asked them about this particular update, because I’ve read a few bad things about the update, and don’t really care to investigate them myself. I usually just install whatever security updates Microsoft provides (for IE and the other ‘critical’ updates that have come out over the past 2 years since I got the Dell laptop that is my work computer). I also asked because I hadn’t heard anything pro or con from the IT department about the update, and since they gave me “administrator” powers on the machine, I wanted to know if they wanted me to install the update or not, because I don’t want to hear “you should have asked us” when the update breaks something that’s important to my daily work tasks.

(Most of the PCs in the company are pretty locked down and require an IT person to install anything, but I got lucky and got admin priviledges on my machine for some reason — and about 1/2 the company uses Macs, so our PC IT department is pretty small and over-worked … though come to think of it, there are actually more PC IT folks than Mac IT folks… says something doesn’t it? But I digress…)

I got a priceless response from a usually generally overly-helpful, normally cordial, and usually explanatory staff:

NO

That was the entire response. ALL CAPS. One word. No explanation.

So, I went about my day, and won’t install XP SP2, but I can’t help but think about how crappy the job Microsoft is doing at educating their corporate clients about this update (which is supposed to solve a lot of security problems isn’t it?)

Oh well, glad I use a Mac at home and don’t have to research that update for my own personal use…

Accomplished (Cleaning out my Inbox)

I did it. I cleaned out my Outlook Inbox today (well mostly). (Back in April I had 700+ emails in my inbox.)

I’m now down to 78 email messages in my inbox, all of them requiring some sort of follow up or action from me. A few from more than 30 days ago, but most of them fairly recent.

How did I get there?

1. I downloaded and installed Lookout. Definitely needed to install this, so I felt safe finally clearing out my inbox. Lookout is a fantastic Outlook search plugin/enhancement thingy.

2. Starting deleting shit. And sorting important stuff away… All kinds of stuff was organized away. I deleted anything that didn’t require action on my part, and didn’t reference a client. I sorted away emails from my boss, sorted away things I just didn’t need cluttering up my inbox, and got rid of anything I didn’t need to be able to find tomorrow in my inbox. Honestly with Lookout, it’s easier to find emails by searching globally than it ever was to keep them sitting in my inbox.

Now the big question: Can I keep my inbox under 100 emails for longer than a week?

(It’s a sad day when cleaning out your Outlook Inbox can make you feel accomplished.)

updated 8/10: … down to 26 items in my inbox this morning … feels good.

Detect and Repair mode

About once a month, Outlook becomes a pain in the ass for me to use for about 2 hours.

Inevitably, it’ll hang on me while I’m doing something else, or some other process will hang while I’m using Outlook, and Outlook will refuse the shut down properly.

(I’m normally in the middle of about 15 things when this happens).

Detect and RepairfI’ll shut down the XP box that I use, and let it sit for 20 minutes or so (I guess I’m hoping it’ll get over whatever I did that made it mad at me).

After leaving it alone, I’ll start it back up, and then I’ll try to launch Outlook. It’ll tell me that it wants to start in “Safe Mode” (and I’m like … hmmm, does it normally run in ‘un-safe’ mode?). I’ll let it try, and every-time, it’ll faily to start up properly. I’ll again, leave the machine alone for 20-30 minutes… hoping Outlook will figure out what’s giving it problems, fix it, and then start up… about 90% of the time (or so it seems) it’ll fail to start properly, and will just sit there telling me that it’s “Not responding” (and I’m like “No Shit!”)

So, I’ll shut it down using the “End Process” command on the Windows Task Manager.

And then, I’ll start up Outlook, and it’ll tell me that something is horribly wrong, and that it needs to go into “Detect and Repair Mode”. I’ll click “ok” and then go away for another 20 minutes or so, while Outlook’s installer tries to do it’s thing.

About half of the time it works and Outlook continues to work (although it forgets some of my preferences).

The other half the time, I “rinse and repeat” this whole process.

This whole process happens about once a month, and it costs me around 2-3 hours each time it happens…

What a pain in the ass… total loss of productivity.

I don’t think Apple Mail has ever ‘ceased to function’ on me, and I know that Mailsmith hasn’t ever broken. Come to think of it, OS X has never crashed on me either…

Had to get that off my chest… Thanks for listening

SCO lawsuits funded by Microsoft?

Wow: this one from Damien Barret:

“Color me not surprised. It appears that Microsoft is paying SCO to file all those ridiculous lawsuits against the users of Linux. I’ve seen low before, but this is pretty damn low. Scumsucking low.”

I have no idea if any of that is true, but, it’s truly sad that I could easily believe it’s true… that’s how much I trust the Microsoft corporate brand.

Lookout for Outlook

Lookout looks really cool. It’s a plugin for Outlook that lets people search super fast on Windows machines and in Outlook files…

But I’ve got a problem with reading these comments by a Longhorn evangelist about how this product gives us a glimpes of what WinFS will bring to the Windows Operating System, not because it doesn’t sound cool, but because it’s sooo far away… When is Longhorn going to get released again?

I don’t mean to be rude or too inciting here, and I welcome the introduction of Longhorn, but doesn’t Mac OS X’s Finder already have the equivalent of WinFS, or at least ‘fast find’? I know it finds files on my computer at Googlespeed straight from the Finder. I didn’t have to fork out the cash for Outlook, and I don’t get viruses on OS X… I also have pretty damned fast finding features using Apple’s Mail (which is free) and the email client I paid for (Mailsmith) has super-fast and truly featured search options. Outlook and Windows have both always sucked at searching…

I’ll download and install Lookout tomorrow on the Dell… because I really could use a good way to search inside Outlook. Anything that makes Outlook useful (like Inbox Budddy) is good news to me.

And, yes, if I had my druthers, I’d use a Mac at work, but I don’t get to have my druthers.

(And, I spotted a reference to X1 in the comments of the post from Jeff Maurone… I just might check that out too)

Apple Security Updates?

I’m always confused about whether or not to install Apple’s Security Updates as soon as they’re available. Today’s latest release…

Security Update 2004-02-23 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

DiskArbitration
IPSec
Point-to-Point-Protocol
tcpdump

Ok, first, I don’t know what any of those things are good for, and why I need them, or why I need them updated… and, on top of that, I haven’t ever gotten a virus or had any security problems with my Macintosh.

Do I really need to install this update?

(If I were notified by Microsoft that there was a security update available through XP’s Windows Update software, I’d install it before I did anything else on that computer, but on a Mac, I always wonder if I even really need to worry about it)

Dell CD-ROM drive issues

Yesterday my CD-ROM drive on my year old Dell Latitude starting having issues. It won’t stay closed and sporadiacally opens on its own. It’s very annoying to be sitting in a presentation and have the CD-ROM drive just pop-open. You initial response is to just push it back in, but when you have a CD in the drive, Windows has the annoying ‘auto-play’ feature that opens the disk you just inserted in a folder view over the presenation you’re presenting in Powerpoint. It’s really damned annoying. Glad I learned that Windows did that before the clients I was presenting to walked into the room.

I’ll get the corporate IT folks to order me a replacement drive from Dell when I get into the office… I’m sure it can’t cost more then $5 the way Dell prices their stuff. They make cheap stuff, so it’s gotta be priced cheaply too, I’d guess.

Stupid thing keeps popping open while I try to type and hitting my wrists… stupid, stupid drive bay thing. It’s like it’s sensitive to the wrist pressure I put on it… stupid thing. I wish I had the floppy drive with me, I’d take the CD-ROM drive out and replace it with the floppy insert so this stopped happening… heh… just thought of something… I haven’t used a floppy disk in at least 5 years… how funny.

One other bitch about this Dell… the battery never lasts more than 2 hours… that just sucks when you’re trying to work on a plane and the plane ride is more than 2 hours long. Glad I’ve got my iPod with me. I may start bringing my Powerbook with me on business trips so I don’t have all these issues… but then I might end up watching a DVD or playing a game instead of working on work.

Microsoft Office 2003

This morning, I was subjected to a rant against Microsoft Office 2003 by my wife. She hates it. I’ve never used it, so this is my recreation of her story to me.

Setting: We’re both on the couch, about to watch some Saturday morning College Football, when a commercial for Office 2003 comes on the TV.

She said something like:

“You know the new Office 2003? It sucks. It sucks because when I open a new message, Outlook decides that it needs to display the fonts in like 18, or 20 point fonts, and I can’t figure out how to get it to not do that. I’ve played with the settings for at least 3 or 4 hours since our IT department installed it, and I can’t figure it out.”

You have to realize my wife is a civil engineer, and very smart… great technical skills, and generally able to figure out on her own how to get a computer to do what she wants it to.

Then she tells me more:

“There’s this guy at the office that owns Macs at home, but is pretty supportive of Microsoft at the office because we use a lot of products that are Windows only, and he hates the new Office 2003. It just changed all the behaviors that we were used to. Why did Microsoft do that? Office 2003 Sucks™”

At this point, I start laughing, because if my wife is saying this, I wonder what others are saying? I know my best friend is flirting with switching.

She then says (totally un-prompted):

“You know that commercial when the IT guy gets asked by the guy giving the new employees a tour of the building ‘Tell them about what your department does, but keep it short’? And the IT guy says ‘We just installed Active Directory, which will save the company a lot of money’?”

I responded that I knew what she was referring to.

“One of our IT guys showed us that commercial in a presentation about the ‘new network enhancements’ that they just made, trying to teach us all about the enhancements. We’d all been using the ‘enhanced network’ for a week at the time that he showed us that commercial and we just laughed. You see, the new ‘enhanced network’ is a piece of crap. We can’t check our email from outside the network reliably anymore. We can’t get to the servers in other buildings like we used to be able to. We can’t share files as easily as we used to, and Office 2003 Sucks™. Sometimes I think IT departments make upgrades to make their jobs easier, not to make the company more profitable, becasue they don’t take into account the time and effort that the profit makers will have to exert to learn and use the new technology with the efficiency that they use the old technology.”

It’s clear that the wife’s not happy with Office 2003, and it has driven a wedge between the employees of her company and their IT department. I personally feel that change is good, but not when it’s so disturbing to the people that have to deal with it in the trenches that it disrupts their daily work. Some of this animosity by the workers that have to use the new tech could have been subdued by the IT department telling the workers about the enhancements and likely problems that might come during the ‘upgrades’ before they started rolling them out, instead of after.

And supposedly, Microsoft cares.

iTunes for Windows and the Experience

Now that everyone has commented on iTunes for Windows and Microsoft’s reactionary statements, I figured I’d take a stab at sharing my own comments.

The WSJ published an article [sub. req.] that talked about the iTunes profit margins:

Consider the economics of the iTunes store. Apple charges 99 cents per song that is downloaded by a consumer. Of that 99 cents, Apple pays the record label about 65 cents for licensing rights to the song, estimates Charlie Wolf, an analyst at brokerage firm Needham & Co. Other analysts come up with similar figures. In addition, Apple incurs costs such as credit-card fees, which typically amount to 25 cents a transaction (which can include several songs), plus 2% to 3% of the amount charged. The result: On average, Apple earns less than a dime for each song it sells from the store.

pespi and itunesApple has admitted that they don’t make money on the iTMS, and that the introduction of it on the Windows platform is really a “Trojan Horse” aimed at getting Windows users to buy iPods, and getting them to think about buying Macintosh computers in the future. I think that’s a coy ploy for Apple, and I’m happy to hear that they’re pursuing this course of action. And don’t underestimate the power of the AOL and Pepsi promotions that Apple has secured. Those should prove to be very lucrative promotions for Apple.

Now, for my comments on iTunes and iTunes for Windows (the experience):

I’ve used SoundJam, Audion and N2MP3 back in the day of MacOS 8 and 9 … they were good, but not great. I didn’t have a large hard-drive, and I didn’t enjoy having to work hard to organize my MP3s due to the fact that I had a small drive. I also didn’t play with Napster all that much when it was an easy way to trade music illegally (it was just too much of a hassle for me to keep up with). Lastly, I didn’t buy all that much music…

In the past year or two, things have changed. Apple really improved MacOS X and the iTunes software. I bought a used 5GB iPod a year and a half ago. I fell in love with iTunes and the iPod (my only complaint was the earphones). When the iTMS was launched, I tested it. I was impressed, but not sold on the idea, and still wasn’t buying much music.

Then, about three months ago, I bought a used 10GB iPod from a friend and sold my 5GB to another friend. I also bought a few individual songs and an album from the iTMS. I also finally told iTunes to “Keep my iTunes folder organized” and to “Copy files to iTune Music folder when adding to library”. And with that final step, I’ve been very satisfied with iTunes and my MP3 collection.

I also helped talk a friend of mine into replacing his old Archaos MP3 player with an iPod for Windows. I warned him that without iTunes on the PC using the iPod might not be as nice an experience as it was for me, but he quickly found EPH Pod and was happy enough with his iPod for Windows, but then I told him that iTunes for Windows was coming out by the end of the year.

Last week, when Apple announced iTunes for Windows, he almost took half a day off to go home to play with it. He installed it later that night when he got home from work, and he’s completely happy with iTunes and his iPod on his PC now. In fact, he’s already thinking he wants to upgrade to a new 40GB iPod, he’s so happy… weird how that whole ‘experience’ thing makes him want more…

My thoughts are that one of these days he’ll ditch his old PC and buy a new Mac, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Steve Jobs proclaims that Hell has frozen overLong story short, iTunes for Windows is a good thing. It’s a smart tactical and strategic play on Apple’s part, and I hope it pays off. It’s all about the experience.

If you’re into dance/electronica music, I’d recommend you check out Smart Music’s MP3 collections. Oh, and I’d recommend you check out AllofMP3.com as a great place to get music in addition to your usual sources. And if you’re an iTunes for Mac user, check out Doug’s Applescripts for iTunes and SmartPlayLists.com.

“Never ask a man what computer he uses. If it’s a Mac, he’ll tell you. If it’s not, why embarrass him?” — Tom Clancy

Further Reading:

Side note: I’m still waiting to read Scoble’s take on iTunes for Windows after he mentioned that he’d test it out. I’m actually sort of wondering if he’ll blog about it or not, considering who his employer is and that he gets paid to evangelise their technology…

linkdump for October

Here’s a few links to stuff I’ve read over the past month or so:

Gruber’s Take on Dell’s MP3 Player

Gruber hits the nail on the head with his latest “Dell’s Dud“:

This idea that the iPod’s position is precarious — that any day now, some cheaper weak-branded knock-off will knock Apple off its perch — is exactly backwards. The iPod doesn’t just lead in market share; it leads in mind share. Any competing player that doesn’t establish an iPod-caliber brand isn’t even competing at all.

PC industry pundits continue to assert that Apple can’t possibly succeed by selling excellent products at premium prices — that they’ll inevitably succumb to mediocre products at discount prices. Tell that to Nike.

IT: Macs versus PCs and virii

John Gruber takes issue with Microsoft, and Outlook, and the virus issues allowed by Microsoft, in his latest article “Good Times“:

We, as a society, have decided that indoor plumbing should be held to high standards of reliability and maintenance. And somehow weve been convinced that indoor computing should not.

And in the follow up “Dynomite!“:

Complexity is not an excuse for low expectations. Weve strapped men into giant rockets loaded with jet fuel, propelled them into space, and landed them on the moon. That was complicated. And our expectation was that wed get them back.

Why we dont expect our email to work is beyond me.

In reading Gruber’s articles, I reflected on the few IT staffs I’ve had experience with in the past:

US Army: At my level (I was a junior officer) we were completely Wintel centric, but relied very, very little on the PC. No one in our 140 man unit had email except the commander (Director level in most large organizations). Everyone else got their orders by memo, face to face meeting, or voice over the radio. Viruses never stopped our organization from running, though they did impede our operations for the first 12 hours or so until someone higher up the chain said “fuck the computers, we’ve got work to do” and we all just got back to work until the one or two IT-trained guys in the 600+ man unit got things working sufficiently again.

MacNN: Small 3-5 man operation. No IT staff (just consultants every now and then). We all used Macs for our desktops and Linux or FreeBSD solutions for our servers. We talked to each other a lot, used email to schedule meetings, and operated pretty virtually (one person in San Fran., one in Iowa or somewhere close to Iowa, one in Texas and one in Washington State, with a few more contractors spread across the internet). We never had virus problems except for when the internet succumbed to a virus epedemic, at which point, we all took the day off anyways (ok, everyone but the owner who never really worked all that much anyways).

Bestfares.com: Small entreprenurial company. Staff: 120 people. IT Staff: 1 Full time guy, sometimes 1.5 guys (depending on the second guys schedule). We survived with an Outlook/Exchange set-up because again, only 30 people or so in the company had email. Everyone else was a real worker. Those of us with email and calendaring got used to not having an internet connection for at least 2 days per quarter because our IT guy was really good at pulling the plug on the company internet connection if he so much as sniffed a virus coming in. That, and the company was too cheap to upgrade to a more full featured version of Exchange than version 4.x or 5.x, so that we really didn’t have all that much whiz-bang features to being with… And when email went down, I usually got to go home early, so I didn’t complain.

Current job: Large media company. We’ve got two IT staffs: one Mac centric and one PC centric. The “CIO” is a Mac guy. Our internal servers are a mish-mash of Sun boxes, Netscape solutions, XServes, and Linux or FreeBSD solutions. Half the staff uses Netscape Mail and Calendaring. Some use Outlook on Wintel-based desktops. Some use Entrouage on Mac OS 9 or X. And a good amount never use computers in their daily work. We have in-house written spam and virus filters, and yet, our total IT staff investment is tiny… maybe 1% of the total staff in the company works in IT. It’s got a decent budget, but it’s all in hardware and software, not staff, and things work well. When Macintosh desktops break down (pretty infrequent) the Mac staff fixes them (if the operator can’t fix it first that is). When the PCs break down (pretty often) the IT staff tells the operator to reboot and see if that fixes the problem, and if that doesn’t work, they pull it off the desk, take it to a room where they ‘operate’ on the machine to diagnose the issues and then fix it, returning it to service after 24 or 48 hours… We don’t have Exchange installed, and instead use IMAP-based Netscape mail for everyone.

That said, I use a PC at work, and hate it most of the time. Especially since I have Outlook, and not Exchange. And since not everyone uses Netscape Mail, we don’t have a common calendaring solution that we can use to invite people to email reliably… But you know what? I also find that I’m not glued to my computer as much as I used to be.

Notepad pop-up advertising

Did you know that on Windows unscrupulous marketers can make Notepad (the text editor included with Windows) open and display a message using javascript or other forms of auto-execution in IE? Did you know they can make Notepad open specific files on the hard-drive of that unsuspecting PC? They can. While this might not be a horrible security risk, it’s undoubtedly a horrible ‘feature’ and since IE isn’t being developed for Windows anymore, it’ll likely not get fixed any time soon…

Another reason to use a Mac.

Outlook XP’s Auto-Complete Function

If you use Outlook XP as your mail client, you’ve likely run into the problem of having bad addresses show up in your auto-complete options when you’re typing a new email to people. It’s usually really annoying, and there’s no way to really fix the problem from inside Outlook XP that’s intuitive (to me at least).

This message board post will quickly walk you through two ways to fix the problem though, depending on the severity of your problems… enjoy:

When typing an address into the To:, Cc: or Bcc: lines of a new message in Outlook 2002, Outlook will use AutoComplete and automatically suggest an address based on addresses it has cached.

To turn off this feature, so that addresses are never suggested, go to the Tools pull-down menu, choose Options, then click the E-Mail Options button, and the Advanced E-mail Options button. Uncheck the box for “Suggest names while completing the To, Cc and Bcc fields”.

To remove one address from the list so that it won’t be suggested again, open a new message and begin typing in the address. Use the up and down arrow keys to select the address to be removed from the addresses suggested. When the address to be removed is highlighted, hit the Delete key.

To remove all the saved addresses, delete the .nk2 file where Outlook stores them. The file is normally located in Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder for each Outlook profile.

And just in case you want more information, here’s another link with plenty of info.

On Letting the IT Department Set Up My Machine

A few months ago, I asked my SFA Manager to get me access to my email from outside the company firewall. He gave me a RSA keyfob and set up two dial-up connections in XP for me to use to connect to the company intranet, so I could check my email from outside the office.

That wasn’t at all sufficient in my mind. I have broadband at home. I purchased a WiFi card with my own money for my laptop. I stay at a Wyndham on purpose (because the broadband connection is free if you’re a ByRequest member). I wanted to have access to the company intranet via broadband without any hassles.

I asked many times if this was possible. Each time I got a slightly different answer, ranging from a ‘no’ at first to a ‘yes, but we have to come to your house to install a firewall’ as the latest answer.

I finally got fed up with excuses and asked my boss for access to my email outside the office via a broadband connection, so that I could check my email while I was at the Wyndham in Atlanta yesterday and today. That was a week ago last Friday. It was still the SFA Manager’s job to get the request processed, but at least now he could do so with some authority.

On Monday of this week, as of 10:00am I didn’t know how to access the company email servers from the Wyndham yet, so I asked the SFA Manager’s immediate supervisor why I didn’t have anything set up, or taught to me yet.

Within 10 minutes, an IT person was in my office with a floppy disk with some VPN software on it, and a print out of instructions on how to login to the network via VPN.

I let the IT person do their job: installing the software, setting up the basics of the VPN account, and walking me through the process… and when that IT person ran into an error, he said he thought the error was something with the VPN server that he was going to check.

Now, I only had 30 minutes before I had to leave the office to catch a plane, so I didn’t follow up with that person before I left for Atlanta. I assumed everything would ‘just work’ when I got to my destination.

After checking into the hotel later that night, I took a shower, ordered room-service, and enjoyed the season Finale of “The Practice” before trying to log into the network via VPN over the Wayport connection in my hotel room.

Hmmm…. same error I was seeing at the office.

I called the tech that set up the software on his cell phone (he told me to call anytime).

The tech called his boss and they talked about what the problem might be, and his boss called me. He got my voicemail for some reason, and I didn’t ever touch base with him.

After a few tries at logging in via the ‘default’ setup I was given before I pulled out the instructions and read them.

The tech had set up the VPN access incorrectly. There was no way I was ever going to login using the default connection he’d set up, so I fixed it myself, and all was hunky dory.

The lessons here:

1. IT folks should check everything for the people they support. (If I’d been a less technical person, I doubt I could have figured out the problem). (If I’d have been a more senior manager, I’m sure I could have raised hell about the poor setup that the tech did).

2. If someone had stolen my computer, they could have easily hacked into the company’s VPN after breaking my XP password (it’s pretty easy to do I’m told) and the instructions for logging into our VPN were in the side-pocket of my computer bag, because that’s where the tech told me to put them, and I’d placed my keys (with the RSA keyfob) into the computer bag for easier traveling through the airport security.

3. XP has a built-in firewall option (or at least that what it looks like in the ‘Advanced’ tab of a LAN connection. (Not that I pretend to know a damned thing about XP).

Can anyone shed any light on why a firewall is needed on a computer that has a VPN client running connected to a VPN server?

Wireless Dell Laptop via Linksys

While I was at CompUSA buying the Linksys Ethernet Bridge, I also picked up a Linksys WPC 11 (Instant Wireless Network Adapter – Version 3.0) or 802.11 card. It was only $80, and since my company said I couldn’t have one, I bought one with my own cash. It’ll be worth it, as I can now surf the net from the work computer while sitting on the couch too.

This really means the wife can surf the web using the PC while I surf using the iBook (once I get it back from the shop) as all of my real tools are on the Mac (Photoshop, Fireworks, telnet, etc…) and I’m so much more fluid on the Mac, as well as the fact that the battery really holds up much better on the Mac than on the Dell.

Woohoo… totally wireless home network now!

(Oh, and setting up the Linksys PC Card on XP couldn’t have been any easier… it was just plug in the card, insert CD, hit ‘ok’ and you’re done. Nice job there Microsoft and Linksys)

Wireless old iMac via Linksys

niceThanks to a tip from Noel, I went to CompUSA today and picked up a Linksys WET111 (a wireless ethernet bridge) this evening. I brought it home, and realized what he meant by “These are a bitch to setup the first time, but work like butter…” as the damn thing doesn’t come with a Mac configuration utility (or if it does, I couldn’t get this old iMac to read the CD).

Luckily, I brought home my laptop from the office just for this sole reason. The setup utility was a snap to use under XP. I plugged in the little bridge via its ethernet cable, loaded the CD into the CD tray, and viola, the CD auto-ran, and the config utility came up. A few ‘yes’ buttons and I was all configured. I reset the bridge, and checked it on the PC. It worked fine.

I unplugged it, and plugged it into the Mac… and viola! I’m now surfing wirelessly on ‘ol Faithful via a Linksys Wireless Ethernet Bridge.

Thanks for the tip Noel. (this means I can now be more productive in my non-office hours again)

Microsoft forces their hand, or do they?

This is sad, according to Scott, who cites another source, Office Depot will only sell computer products (hardward and software) that’s certified by Microsoft to run well on their computers…

I like my Apple made hardware, software, and finely built peripherals… That’s the difference between the majority of Apple developers and Windows developers. All Apple developers that sell more than one product know that the standards have to be quite high for most Macintosh owners to recommend the product to a friend… Microsoft developers know that Microsoft users are stupid, for the most part, and don’t expect their computers to work properly the first time, so they can make shitty software and hardware and get away with it… the market’s large enough to have a good amount of idiots willing to plunk down good cash for crappy stuff….

Email is a constant battle…

I have 128 message in my inbox at work. All of them are ‘important’.

This morning, I cleaned up my inbox and must have filed at least 100 old message that weren’t really all that important anymore… and I still have 129 messages in my inbox (yes, I got one more while typing this).

The sad part is that at least a quarter of the emails a requests to have meetings or perform tasks, or even updates on task that my subordinates have in progress…

I’m thinking that if my employer had an Exchange server, and everyone that I worked with was on Outlook, I could halve the number of email message I kept in my inbox, as at least 1/4 of them could be handled via the Outlook/Exchange Meeting Request/Task Notification and sharing functions…

Argh… it’s just frustrating trying to stay ahead of my email.

Windows Annoyances

Jennifer Garner ... mmmm ...Are you annoyed with Windows? I am sometimes… Like, “Why does XP always ask me to report a crash to Microsoft?” or “How do I customize the Start Menu?”… I ask myself these questions a lot it seems.

It’s nice to know about websites like Annoyances.org:

Annoyances.org is the most complete collection of information assembled for and by actual users of Microsoft Windows.

They’ve got some great categories of information:

Using Windows

Customizing

Annoyances

Networking

Reducing Clutter

Performance

Troubleshooting

and

Applications

And some of the tidbits are quite cool: Stop Windows XP from asking if you want to send a report to Microsoft whenever a program crashes and Customize Windows XP Styles are pretty useful.

And lastly, go grab a great Windows Desktop here [via StevenF]

Houston tells Microsoft to “Fuck Off”

hi there strangerExcuse the harsh language in the title of this post, but this is just too good not to mention. I heard about this earlier in the week from a co-worker that’s a Mac-zealot, and thought that it was funny…

From C|Net: Houston: We have a problem with Office

Amazingly (to me at least) “Houston has begun to phase out Microsoft Office for its 13,000 city workers in favor of Web-based software from a local start-up.”

The Texas city signed a five-year, $9.5 million contract last year with Houston-based SimDesk Technologies to provide city workers and, eventually, up to 3 million city residents with the company’s software and services.

SimDesk offers a package of more than two dozen applications covering basic PC tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and e-mail. The applications include a subscription to SimDesk’s Web-based services, which allow customers to store documents, messages and other data on a central server run by SimDesk. This data can be retrieved and manipulated from any device with a Web connection, including cell phones and handheld computers.

Ray Davis, SimDesk’s founder and president, said the key to making it work is an extremely efficient protocol for transferring data to and from SimDesk’s central server. The company has a single 32-processor Unisys server capable of handling 21 million users.

“It’s not the typical client-server relationship,” Davis said. “We use a patented, proprietary transfer protocol…that uses a very specific load-balancing technology we developed. Whether you’re using a cell phone or the fastest Internet connection at the office, it reacts the same. You don’t have to worry about bandwidth.”

This is truly amazing. SimDesk stands to make $9.5 million off this deal, and if I’m doing my math correctly, Microsoft stands to lose up to $15,000,000 (3,000,000+ users times $500 per copy of Office) annually.

That’s gotta hurt.

If this program works, Microsoft (as well Dell, HP, Compaq, and others) are looking at a major degredation of their markets at the lower levels as well as a shrinkage in the higher levels of their markets I’d guess.

Then again, it might not work for Houston anyways… We’ve all seen failed IT initiatives for one reason or another. What I really like about this idea though is that the entire City seems to be behind it (at least in the Mayor’s office). That’s cool.

Wanted: Screen Catcher for Mac OS X (Full-Page Screen Shots)

I’m a big fan of Screen Catcher from St. Clair Software. Back when I was part of the team at a little know Macintosh website, I used St. Clair’s software to create media kits and marketing materials for our advertising sales efforts. The full page screen shots of websites (which are most often longer than one screen) were extremely effective for me in presentations of small banner placements, or placements that might appear at the bottom of the web pages. I used this software exclusively under Mac OS 9 for all of my screen shots.

Don’t get me wrong, the stuff from Ambrosia that takes screenshots and made movies is good, but I didn’t need it. I needed full-page screen shots. Screen Catcher did that perfectly. (And this ‘solution’ from Ambrosia’s forums isn’t a real solution, in my opinion, or the other posters to that forum message.)

I’d really, really (read that REALLY!) like to see this piece of software come out for Mac OS X. I don’t know what’s involved in making that happen, but OS X has been out for what, 2 years now? Surely someone else could write a brand new piece of software for X that did the same thing and worked well… Any takers? Panic — Are you listening? Marketers and Creative people could really use this software. I can help you build a B2B marketing program to get it sold… but it needs to be created.

(If I’m an idiot and it already exists somewhere, please advise in the comments).

BTW, for the time being, I’ve found HyperSnapz DX from Hyperioncics for Windows that gets the job done (quite well actually) but it means I have to use a PC window/interface in those marketing and sales presentations. I’d really like to sneak OS X screenshots into those presentations as subliminal advertising for Apple (at no charge of course to them).