Monday, December 24, 2007

Safari and Google Docs... Perfect together

As the market share of Apple continues to grow, so does the use of Safari and other WebKit browsers.  Recently another milestone came about as Google Docs now appears to support most features under Safari.  While the help documentation does not list it, this entire article was written and posted from Google Docs on Safari.  I think the catalyst behind this change was the support necessary for the iPhone javascript was similar to the changes necessary to support Safari as a whole.

Bravo google!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The problem with the software industry

Software licensing is no laughing matter when the BSA funds it's operations through squeezing small businesses with legal extortion.

extortion: Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure. Some forms of threat, especially those made in writing, are occasionally singled out for separate statutory treatment as blackmail.

It's articles like these that should enrage any computer user.

"BSA audits zing companies for software that came with used computers they bought to save money. The BSA considers software pirated if a company can't produce a receipt for it, no matter how long ago it was purchased. Software boxes or certificates of authenticity are no help, because the BSA argues the software could have been obtained from an illegitimate source."

"Beyond hunting for dicey characters buying and selling counterfeits, the BSA also devotes significant attention to other forms of what it calls piracy by business users. The money harvested in these company-by-company crackdowns is not parceled to its members whose copyrights were infringed; the funds stay with the BSA to fuel its operations. (BSA's worldwide settlements soared 53 percent last year to $56 million.)"

It's time to reel back in the BSA and it's piracy. It's far too easy to fall out of compliance when the BSA requires such high standards to prove that the software is legitimate. I would contend that most piracy is blatant and that going after companies for simple software licensing foul-ups sends the wrong message.

"Enraged, CEO Sterling Ball vowed never to use Microsoft software again, even if "we have to buy 10,000 abacuses." He shifted to open-source software, which lacks such legal entanglements because its underlying code is freely distributed."

While I laud Bell for switching to Open Source it's for the wrong reasons. He is not switching because it's the best tool for the job, but because he believes it will protect him from further extortion from the BSA. In reality the BSA can hit him up again and he will still have to prove that he does not have any illegal software on his systems costing him time and money.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why 2007 ( and '08 and '09 ) will not be the "Year of the linux desktop"

Whenever I talk to my mother about switching systems the first question that she asks is “Will it run Quicken?” This is no trivial question as she has over 7 years of data stored in the archives and she uses it for her business. The answer to this question is important to all linux users as without understanding Windows users you will never be able to entice them over.

Right now under linux the honest answer would be “No”. While you might be able to get it running under Wine or CrossOver, both admit that there are serious limitations with this solution.  There are native UNIX applications like Money Dance, but that does not offer a drop in solution since it lacks online banking and other feature.  Really there is nothing for the advanced Quicken user, just as there are advanced Office users that are equally put out by Open Office.

Don’t get me wrong I think there is more to linux than the desktop.  It absolutely shines in a managed environment or in the pre-packages environment where the end user does not have to worry about the low level management of the system.  It also goes without saying that the server realm will continue to be dominated by linux for some time to come.

Anchor Applications a.k.a “The Killer App”

This question underscores one of the current failings of the linux community. The inability to bring to fruition any applications that are linux only and compelling.  For the most part the “superstar” desktop linux offering fall into one of three categories.  

  • Blatant rip-offs:   Kontact, evolution,  AmoraK, songbird ( oops songbird is cross platform ), and more.

  • Cross-platform staples:  Firefox, VLC, and OpenOffice

  • Ported to Windows or Mac: Gimp, and Pidgin

Compare that to both Windows and Mac where there are plenty of “Anchor” application that their end users really can’t live without.  Try to get an accountant to go without the use of QuickBooks, a Videographer without FCP, or a photographer without Photoshop and you get the idea.  These people do not have any reason to put up with any degradation in their experience no matter how much it might save them in software licensing costs.  While consumers are cost sensitive, they tend to be much more time sensitive and software.

The problem this presents for linux is the lack of traction with desktop linux users.  What’s keeping them from fleeing at the first sign of something offered on one of the other desktop solutions ( be it from Windows, Mac, another distro, or other platform )?  Really there is nothing.  Applications already make it dirt simple to move most files to and from linux, Windows, and Mac without incident.  There are virtually no files that you can create under linux that can not be read by Windows, Mac, or other platform.

The Linux Desktop Market

What appears to make up the current linux desktop market.  This only includes those people that are running an unmanaged, standalone copy of linux on their desktop or laptop computer.

  • Hard core linux users:  These are users that use linux because it’s linux.  They don’t need a reason to run linux.

  • Cheapskates:  People who get the $199 special and don’t want to be bothered with windows.  People who have a pile of computers in their basement/attic and can’t be bothered to pirate another copy of windows when linux is “good enough” for now.

  • Techies:  UNIX professionals who need a tool that will interact well with other Linux/UNIX system.  The problem with these users is that it seems like they are flocking to Mac hardware since it gives them the ability not just to interact with UNIX services, but will also boot or virtualize linux and windows as well.

  • Refugees:  People from the Windows world who feel they are no longer welcome.  These users are also likely to be poached by Apple.

Realistically there is only a limited number of people that are hard core users.  The bounds of the other two groups will ebb and flow with the times.  If Microsoft ever started giving away a “home” version of the OS the linux desktop movement would be set back years in total numbers because only the hard core users would remain.  Dell’s foray into selling Ubuntu on some of it’s laptops will be an interesting experiment in the overall growth of linux.  Will it have a material impact or will it just fizzle out like almost all other attempts people have made?  HP, Dell, and countless smaller vendors have been preinstalling variants of linux or freedos for years without significant impact on the market.

But What About ‘X’

Well I have received a number of reasons over the years.  Some of them less compelling than others.

  • It’s about choice:  Good for you.  If you can make a solution of hardware and software work for you then congratulations.  But you seem to forget that it’s not a reason for someone else to switch.  The possibility of some future advantage is rarely a good motivator for someone who is comfortable with what they have.

  • It’s not Microsoft:  It’s amazing how many linux advocates take this position.  Personally I wouldn’t shed one tear if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, but that is still not a good reason for an existing Windows user to switch to a linux desktop.  Personally I will not recommend a Windows solution to people at the current time.  Based on pst behavior I see them continuing to treat their customers like criminals when they are not busy making their current hardware and software obsolete.

  • Developing counties:  While poor places like India, China, and the OLPC project do offer an excellent opportunity for linux to get hundreds of new users there is also a huge problem.  As these places become not poor they will once again be aggressively courted by Microsoft and Apple.  I foresee any gains in these markets to be taken back once their economies have picked up again.

  • New users:  There is also some delusion that all new users could take to linux as well as any OS.  I feel this is true, there is no reason a new user would not be able to pick up Ubuntu as easily as Windows these days.  The problem is they have little reason to stick to linux when push comes to shove.  When a “killer app” is released for this user under Windows what’s to stop them from jumping ship?  The smart ones will virtualize, but lets face it most users are not that smart and will end up dual-booting or wiping linux.

And That’s Not All!

At this point I have been concentrating on the lack of “anchor” application for the linux desktop, but I could have selected any number of the other failings that linux has for this piece.  I can think of no less than a half dozen possible issues that linux needs to address before a significant desktop userbase will ever be achieved.


Every year for the last few I keep hearing “It’s the year of the linux desktop” but don’t you know it never happens.  Each year it’s heralded in by some new amazing success stories and breakthrough news.  Each year comes and goes and nothing happens.  This year will come and go too without the desktop market being consumed by Linux. 

The linux desktop market is doomed to a niche.  I don’t believe it can ever grow beyond a very limited set of users that will be constantly “flipped” to one of the other two desktop platforms as they grow and find their own “killer app”.  Without it’s own “anchor” linux will always be adrift, picking up refugees, techies, and cheapskates who will bring down the community and then leave.

To the linux users who take offense to this article, write in your own blog and post the link since it’s going to take more than just a one line reply.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

This Fugal Life - Telecommuting Roundup

With the price of gas continuing to rise with no signs of stopping, many people and businesses are starting to take another look at telecommuting and it's affect on the bottom line. It's almost like a perfect storm for telecommuting as gas is putting pressure on both employers and employees to allow telecommuting to take off. Combined with the pervasive move to internet technologies allows employees to access most or all of the resources they need from anywhere they can get an IP address and these days that's almost anywhere.


The statistics are grim.

  • Gas has risen 50% in the last year
  • The average commute is 32 miles/day or 50 minutes [2]
  • The average fuel Efficiency in 2004 was 22.4 for passenger cars [3]
  • AAA calculates that driving costs approximately $.52/mile [4]
  • Households are spending 18% of their income to drive around [1]

Based on those averages, the "average" american worker is spending $3840 getting to and from work for the year. I can think of several other things to do with that kind of money besides flush it down the toilet getting to and from work. And for those of you who spend a lot more than 32 miles a day in the car or own a large sedan or SUV, time for a reality check you are probably spending quite a bit more.

Personally I have made the conscious choice to give up my car and drop down to a 1 car household. I have written this up in another post how I have now spent a year without the use of my own car. It not only saves me tons of cash, but it's healthier too.

How are you spending you hard earned household income? By all accounts most of you are spending 18% of your hard earned money so that you can drive around all year long. It hasn't been such a big deal with super cheap gas prices in the past, but many are starting to reevaluate if that is such a good idea.

And there are many out there that are so tied to their lifestyle they can't see that they might as well be throwing away tens of thousands of dollars a year just to get to and from work. They spend so much time on the road that they have become strangers in their own home. Spending more than 20% of their household income in gas alone just for one worker to get to and from work! [5]


One area where people are making a change is telecommuting. With advancements in communications and internet technology there is often little reason for an employee to have to come to work every day. Most of their activities can be done from home on the computer and both the employee and the employer can benefit.

The ITAC has figures that a well run tele-worker program can save employers up to $5k/year/employee that works 3-5 days at home. This is because you don't need as many desks which leads to smaller offices that need less power and maintenance. Workers can be more productive when they work from home because they don't have to waste time driving to the office, chatting around the water cooler, and other office activities that could sap time and performance.

But it's not just corporate greed that is driving this change, there are also other incentives to making this move.

Worker Flexibility / Retention

Many people also believe that offering a flexible scheduling and telecommuting will help give businesses an advantage to attract and retain the best and brightest to their ranks. Assuming that management can adjust to the fact that they will not always have a watchful eye over their workers it's usually a win for all involved.

Going Green Or Just Saving Green

Some places like The National Recreation and Parks Association are choosing to set workers up on a 4 day a week schedule. Between the 70 office worker employees this saves 100 gallons of gas a week as well as tons of carbon emissions a year. Smaller offices mean less wasted heating and cooling costs, mess material, and much much more.

Really does it matter why telecommuting is finally getting the recognition it deserves. It is something thats time has come and employee and employer can benefit if they take the time now to make accommodations.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fugal Living: Saving 5K a Year and Being Healthy

I have an unusually fortunate living arrangement where I can walk to work. Having just gotten married a few years ago we combined households and ended up with two vehicles, mine was a 2001 Honda Accord that was paid off and the other was a 2004 Toyota Carola. After much procrastination I decided that I would see how long I could go without my own vehicle.

That was over a year ago.

AAA's own reports show that the cost of driving is quite a bit higher than just the gas. There is insurance, maintenance, taxes, registration, and finance charges. All said and done their latest report pegs the cost per mile at $.52 and that was then gas averaged $2.26/gallon. You can bet that value would be higher if they had taken the $3/gallon average into account.

I wasn't a big driver, so being conservative I was driving 10k/year on the Accord. This roughly translates into 5K a year in savings by selling the vehicle.

In The Beginning

I started with a simple goal; go 30 days without driving my car. That was easy enough to reach. Besides having to move the car in the driveway once it was no problems. The days of bad weather made me question what I was doing and getting up earlier in the morning ( never really been a morning person ) was difficult in the beginning.

As Time Went On

I had to drive the car at least once a month to make sure everything was still working well. I did cheat a few times and drive it when I didn't need to, but it was just sitting there otherwise collecting tree debris. It was getting to the point of comical when my wife asked me to sell the damn thing already, and I did last december. I used the proceeds to top up our Roth IRA's for the year and stuffed a bunch into out high yield savings. Part of the proceeds ended up paying of my wife's vehicle this spring so we are now 1 car and 0 car loans!

It's Not Just 5K a Year

But not only am I saving money hand over foot ( pun intended ) it is much healthier since I'm getting between 30 and 45 minutes of walking in a day! Although this has yet to translate into massive weight loss, I do feel better most of the time. If there is the occasional downpour or snowstorm my wife can drop me at work since it's not that far out of her way.

While "no car" might not be feasible for those with a long commute, those where it might be a possibility I highly recommend it to anyone where it is a possibility. Even after talking all of this into account if you have access to public transportation it's still a huge savings even without the health benefits.

The extra money this year has come in handy as my wife has been out of work for most of the year raising our daughter. There have been whole weeks where the car got used once or twice clocking in only a hundred miles a month. With my wife returning to work soon that will start to return to a normal level and scheduling may get more interesting, but for 5K a year I can deal.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

iTunes Plus Gets an A+ in My Book

While not the perfect interface, iTunes and and iPod have been a convenient and powerful way to manage my music library and DAP usage over the years. The one glaring problem with this situation has been iTMS. I refuse to own music that is locked into one player so my use of the iTMS has been limited to one album and maybe a half dozen tracks out of hundreds of albums and thousands of tracks.

Well not anymore!

Enter iTunes Plus - Stage Right

The idea had been kicked around for a while that Apple was working deals to make a DRM free music store, but those theories were quickly dismissed by the technology community since no big label had yet to greenlight such a use. Steve Jobs himself even sent out an "Open Letter" to the music publishers and still people doubted it would ever happen.

Then it was announced ushered in a new chapter in digital music downloads.

iTunes 7.2

So I downloaded iTunes 7.2 in a recent software update and figured "What the Hell?" I would give this new store a whirl. Amazingly enough I was no sooner in the iTunes Plus store I was upgrading the one album I bought for a paltry $3. In total I still spent less on this album then I would have in a local store.

Browsing the store it's apparent that the sock is limited in many regards, but there is still quite a bit of good music there. Within the first two hours I had bought another 2 albums ( Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head $7, Royksopp - Melody Am $10 ) both for less than I would find them in the stores or at Amazon. While I'm sure that there are some genres that will benefit from the doubling of the bitrate, so far I can't hear any perceptible difference between the two sets of tracks.

The Good

Higher bitrate tracks with no DRM. I copied the tracks over to another library in my household and they played as expected with no questions from iTunes. As I said before I can't tell any difference between the 128 kbps tracks and the 126 kbps tracks, but maybe it's because I have not turned up the stereo enough. Now as a point of reference I can easily pick out a poorly encoded mp3 track even with earbuds. The higher bitrate will allow for transcoding to other formats like mp3 without too great a loss vs converting the CD yourself.

The Bad

Your name, email, and purchase date are encoded in the file... big whoop. I really can't see the problem with this as it does not prevent any legitimate fair use rights or even bending fair use rights. The larger files will affect the storage capacity of the iPod if you patronize the iTMS a lot. AAC format rather than Apple Lossless. The change to the single track pricing "feels" like a back door price increase. The store is still going through "growing pains" and there have been a few occasions where things on the site have not worked as expected.


If you have avoided the iTunes Music Store because of DRM now is the time to reexamine what they offer. With DRM gone you can now use the music without worry that someday you might want a non-iPod DAP and have to repurchase all of your music. I will be happy to spend money at the iTMS on plus albums rather than hoofing it out to a B&M store to try and find a CD.

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Linux and Photography Don't Mix So Well

Don't get me wrong... I still love the Penguin ( for now, Solaris 10 / ZFS review coming up ) but the penguin just doesn't like my photography work.

My requirements were not very high. I shoot with a dSLR and capture RAW images. I want to download, sort, re-develop, and post process my images with a small amount of effort. Under windows I had been using Picasa with much success. I don't think these requirements are too much to ask for.

UPDATED: 6/7/2007: Added a link to some more commentary and some more editorializing below.

Picasa for Linux

My first attempt was to use Picasa since it, in theory, would be a seamless transition. I could take my existing folder and move them over to the laptop and fire up Picasa and be off to the races.

Not so fast!

Under windows Picasa has been a welcome change from managing images via folders manual. It also supported RAWs ( in a limited fashion ). The interface was limited, but fast and functional. It allowed me to sort, touch up, and upload quickly and easily.... I loved it.

Under Linux Picasa was prone to crashing the application or the system. There were fewer touch-up options than under windows, there was no uploading, and it's integration was NILL. Exporting pictures was an exercise in frustration as it was a 50/50 chance that I would get what I want or 2 out of 20 pictures actually converted.


No RAW support! I would have to take a step backwards and start using .jpg's again as well as reconverting a year or more of pictures back to .jpg in order to use this application. It won't upload to picasaweb and while it's integration is nice, it lacked any good features that made Picasa a real win on the desktop.


This application might be great if you want to kill yourself slowly, but for those that have better things to do with their time there has to be a better solution. Don't get me wrong UFRaw + GIMP would have worked, but would have required 10-15 minutes per photo just to do basic touchups after workflow/sorting that I would have to do manually.

After weeks of playing, tweaking, fixing, rebooting, re-installing, searching, and failure I abandon all hope that a RAW workflow was even realistically possible under linux at this time. Short of using VMware to run Picasa or Adobe products under windows I was out of luck. I was backed up months in processing my personal photos and I just could not stand it anymore.

Apple MacBook Pro To The Rescue

I did the math and ended up running down to my local Apple store and buying a stock MBP off the shelf. Within a day I was up and running processing RAW images with little more than a few clicks. While I ended up leaving iPhoto in the dust for LightRoom both were painless and FAST. I can now do basic touchups in less than 30 seconds and advanced touchups in less than 5 minutes and quickly move through whole batches of pictures faster than any previous workflow.

As the old adage goes, "Linux is free only if your time costs nothing". In my case that was true. Maybe in a few years when photographers have tread this path a few more times and have beaten a few workflow applications into the OS realm it might be possible or at least less painful a possibility.

Update 1:

Here is a link to the google groups discussion. I like linux, but boy their users are assholes sometimes.

I did neglect to test Bibble Labs Pro, but as one user has noted it's workable but not the most stable application out there for linux. LightRoom was also cheaper than Bibble Labs Pro costing me only $99 during the introductory period and I didn't need to go out and buy a noise reduction package on top of it.

I still stand by my conclusion that RAW photo management / workflow under linux is immature and needs a few more years to develop. It is possible, sure, but it's not nearly up to the usability standards that I have come to love from other platforms.

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Back again

I know it's been a while, but I do have much up my sleeve to talk about.

Linux: Dumped! It could not handle my photography needs and so I have moved over to a shiny new Apple MacBook Pro.

Firefox: Because of quirks 2.0 won't cut it on my Apple setup so I'm running 3.0pre6a with decent success

Google: World domination or just making up for missteps by Microsoft?

ZFS, Solaris, follow up on the 1TB server, and much more!

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Eating My Own Dogfood

Hello... I'm a Linux admin and I have no love for Microsoft, so what the hell am I doing running Windows on my Laptop for home and work? Well I should say *ran* Windows as they have both been converted over to Linux when I made the resolution this year to kick the Microsoft habit. Sure it would be nice to own a Mac and use OS X but I can't justify a new laptop while my old one is functional.

It's been a long time in the making. I have had more problems with windows than I care to recount over the years. With my recent run in with WGA and IE7 I finally decided that it was time to jump ship. At the office we are using a RHEL rebuild, so I decided to stick with one of the RedHat flavors. For a complete outsider it might be just as easy to use PClinuxOS or Ubuntu. Linux has been more than stable enough for production use for years. As for desktop use the apps were there, but the "just work" "out of box" experience had until a few years ago still been rough around the edges.

I think what finally pushed me over the edge was the constant scanning for pirate software the MS does. On my laptop at home with a clean install of XP with SP1 ( that's all I got from the OEM almost 3 years ago ) I have to install, telephone activate, validate to download SP2, validate to install SP2, validate to download updates, validate to run updates, validate to download Windows Defender, validate to install Windows Defender, ... All behind a firewall. Checking every 5 minutes to make sure your customers are criminals does no breed trust or loyalty. But that was just the final straw there was data lost when I left my system overnight only to have updates reboot the system, pushing out of IE7 as a critical update when it's still very buggy, and a general feeling that customers not forking over enough money to Microsoft are under scrutiny.

This is not the first time I have gone all Linux... the last time was 1998 if you can imagine that. Netscape was the browser of the day and I ran NFS home directories off a file server with 10Mb hub networking. It was difficult to get setup, but ran effortlessly. When my girlfriend called me with a problem running Netscape I was able to fix it while I chatted with her and she was amazed.... "What, I don't have to reboot?". The hardest part of any desktop Linux setup is the initial hump of setting up and retraining the mind to think in slightly different terms. People trained specifically for MS Windows might have a little culture shock to overcome, but for everyone else who has the ability to adapt it's really not that monumental a shift.

This time I have the benefit of having 95% or more of my daily tasks being accomplished through software that was open source. The two biggies being Firefox and Gaim both of which run almost unaltered under Linux. I haven't touched MS Office in more than 9 months because I have transitioned most of my word processing over to Google Documents and Spreadsheets. It is a far from perfect solution, but it is terribly convenient and it's free to use. The one application that will be tough is iTunes. I have a 30GB collection that I manage through the interface, but only really listen to through the iPod. I'm working on transferring that to a VMware image so that I can run it off the server.

So how hard was it.... surprisingly painless. All modern distributions allow you to seamlessly repartition without data loss and install, but I already had a spare partition on both systems that I used for installation. For my use I chose Fedora Core 6 as it is similar enough to what we use at the office for all of my experience to carry over. Graphics were up in a snap without needing to configure the monitor and all hardware was auto-detected. It took a few minutes to download updates that installed in the background without a need for a reboot. I knew in advance that I would need to get the firmware from Intel in order to activate the wireless drivers; two downloads later I had the correct firmware and I was wireless.

Gaim and Firefox were easy enough to get set up. Under Windows I usually used Gaim for IRC, under Linux I prefer to use XChat. The default gnome desktop is spartan and functional. Windows users should feel at home without making any changes although they may have to search around a bit for some of what they are used to. On my Dell Latitude sleep even works properly, unfortunately it does not work on the Compaq X1000 laptop from home. All of my familiar web apps work just as well as they did under windows. Desktop effects work like a charm on my desktop, but appear to still have problems with the mobile ATI cards in the laptops. It's just a matter of time and it's not like the copycat effects are necessary for the system.

I just feel better having taken MS off as my primary OS. It just felt like the right thing to do. Living in a culture of materialism it's nice to know that I'm contributing to a community where it's share and share alike. Where when updates come out I don't have to give a DNA sample to verify that I'm entitled to the patch.

In the end Microsoft is the reason I'm here. I might still be a Windows user and recommend Microsoft products if they would just get their act together. I will post another update when I solve the iTunes issues and how it was accomplished. I'm hoping that VMware will run ok on the $400 1TB file server I just bought ( but that's an update for another day ).

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 ( IE7 ) Another Pretty Face From Microsoft

As a majority of the people reading this blog are using IE I figured I would give it a spin. While the sporty new UI is quite slick, the WOW factor wears off quickly as you attempt to do any real work.

Because my XP is full patched I have IE7 and was raring to go. I decided to give my usual array of website a drive with the new browser to see how well it ran against my old stand by, Firefox 1.5. This is not meant to be an exhaustive blow-by-blow, but a simple review of how IE7 seems to respond.

The first thing you can't help but notice is the new interface. Minimalistic but functional would be the way I would describe the new interface. The two "drop down" menu's are "Page" and "Tools". Despite my initial confusion as to where to find things I was quick to catch on. First I wanted to check a number of bugs with web applications that I have been using and most of them were browser independent.

So far so good. It looks good, responds well, was quick and easy to setup.

Problem in a Flash

The first sign of trouble was when I went to check my website stats. The Google Analytics website makes heavy use of flash. Upon the first visit I was asked to install the flash ActiveX. Unfortunately for me it did not work. I tried several other sites and the same thing, flash only partially worked. Attempting to re-install flash would not work. This sent me on a quest through the search engines finally ending up at a Microsoft forum where several possible solutions were offered by different MVP's. Finally I found a flash removal tool that was able to completely remove the previous installation so that I could reinstall directly from Adobe. This solution was able to fix my problems with flash.

This is not a solution that would have been easy for a new or inexperienced user would have been able to discover on thier own. Why Microsoft could not have included corrective action before installing ActiveX controls that it knows in advanced are faulty escapes me.

Cookie Monster

I don't have a complex system. It's a stock XP SP2 home with Norton AV and the XP firewall, I don't use any other filtering applications. IE7 was unable to remember my cookies properly across browser sessions, but only for Google sites.... Hmmmm. Even between Google applications the "remember me" function fails to work properly because of one or more of MS's new security features. I took some time to see if this had something to do with me. First things first I tried adding google to the always accept cookies under under "Internet Option" without any change in behaviour.

Moving on I decided that the google toolbar might somehow be interacting poorly with the new IE7, hell Adobe flash didn't work right, so I went ahead and used the new tools in IE7 to completely deactivate the google toolbar any any other google browser plugin. I did this through the "Manage add-ons" tool that IE7 has added so conveniently to the "Tools" menu.

Unfortunately after all of that things got worse. Now every attempt to go to the Google AdSense page pops up a warning about Intranets.... WTF MS do you have to remind me on every damn page?


Within my short span of using IE7 there here are a few more bugs that I ran across.

  • Flash is quirky requiring re-installation of ActiveX control for some
  • Cookie behaviour is unlike anything that I have used
  • Appears to "dislike" many Google services
  • Quick tabs are not kept updated with the tabs
  • Quick tabs rendering appears to require their own fetch and loading of pages!
  • Full screen "auto hide" of top menus is great, except that only mouse movement activates it. When using keyboard shortcuts the menu does not pull down automatically

But it's not the obvious bugs that are the problem it's the random issues. Watching the newsgroups there seem to be as many seemingly random issues as there are installations of IE7.

Run Away?

During installation of IE7 we are told that we can uninstall this product at any time, unfortunately this might be stretching the truth. The uninstallation wizard warns that any application installed after IE7 might not function properly after uninstallation ( Whoops ). At least they are getting more honest about the reliability of the uninstall method. Not wanting to risk the overall stability of my installation I did not attempt uninstallation.

MVP's posts generally agree that the only safe way to remove this application is with a "restore point", unfortunatily this solution only works so long as you are not making and real changes to your computer. It really is the sledge hammer of removal tools and it's a crime that Microsoft is allowing this application out the door without proper uninstall support.

UPDATE: Followed steps on this helpful page to remove IE7. The steps include turning off Automatic Updates and rebooting twice. Oh, and tell me why, oh why, does automatic update tell you to reinstall IE7 after a user just finished uninstalling it? ( another bug ).


Yet again Microsoft has released a half-baked product. While sporting a new and improved UI with slick new graphics it's got a rotten underbelly. It's quirks will confound and confuse the average user and at the same time thumbs it's nose at advanced users as well. It seems to be unable or unwilling to render without comment pages that work just fine in other browsers that I use. Businesses should be very afraid of how there Web applications will respond within this monster. While the bugs are still being worked out I recommend a browser like Firefox or Opera to get essential work done.

My big question for Microsoft... is IE6 so completly broken that this is a "Critical Update" or just another way for Microsoft to push Vista?

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