Archive for September, 2011

Stimulate 2011

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Personally I don’t believe it is the place of the Government to be stimulating the economy. It is the place of government to make rules which allow for an efficient economy. I can see times were stimulation can return a positive ROI and in those situations it doesn’t bother me as much. What I really don’t like is an unbalanced budget with a debt to GDP ratio of 90%.
Right now President Obama wants to spend $500 Billion dollars to repair existing roads and bridges, and to pay for teachers salaries. I don’t find this to be real stimulus. There’s no way it will pay back the interest accumulated through the debt taken on to pay for it. The way to stimulate the economy will be to help community banks lend.
The Federal Government should guarantee up to $500 Billion in loans made by community banks to small businesses. This will get money into the hands of entrepreneurs and may save community banks; placing them in a better position for when the big banks disintegrate. I would be surprised is all of the loans default. Since they won’t default tax payers won’t be on the hook for all $500 Billion. While I don’t like it I can get behind it more so then the current proposed stimulus President Obama wants passed now.

Categories: Uncategorized

Two Years in Windows 7

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Two years ago I wrote some posts about how I felt about windows 7 vs Vista. I ended the last one with how there really wasn’t anything in 7 that I liked over Vista. When reading over the posts, all that happened was I started feeling down because I still miss those things, and this only reminded me of that. Now that I’ve had more time using Windows 7 I would like to talk about somethings which are better.

One thing I couldn’t stand in Vista was that searching from the start menu didn’t include Control Panel items. How that was an oversight in Vista, I’ll never know. At least they are there in Windows 7.  Although, start menu searching is still not perfect, if you search for Environment Variable and select “edit the system environment variables” it takes you to a window with a button to edit the variables, not the window itself. As great as Superfetch is in Vista it couldn’t overcome the GDI bottleneck which was carried over from XP. In Windows 7 they were able to get rid of the bottleneck and may I never have to use a system with a bottleneck that like again. Another piece of eye candy I have come to rely on in Windows 7 are the preview windows in the task bar; they are nice.

As far as the workflow for managing pictures is concerned the OS still hasn’t made up for that. One of my coworkers girlfriends is a developer on the Windows shell team and when I explained how my workflow breaks down in Windows 7 her advice was “don’t type that fast”. Windows Live Photo Gallery (wave 4) does provide a better experience than just Explorer, but that wasn’t out when Windows 7 shipped. It may be hard to consider this a good thing, but due to the problems I have with Windows 7 I wrote an application to help me overcome them. I love what I learned, but it is kind of a bummer that the OS fell short and I needed to make up for it. In all fairness the application does more than what Vista did, but Vista was still usable enough to not need it.

I’m not saying that I’d go back to Vista. I never used Windows Media Center in Vista, I use it all of the time in Windows 7, and from what I hear it’s way better. I do like that there were issues addressed in Windows 7. I just think that they cut out nice things from Explorer in hunt of the real bug – loading more dll’s than what it needed to. I also like the Windows 7 Home Groups; sadly the crappy routers everyone gets handed by their ISP really make this a poor experience, but the thought is there.

Hopefully with a more consumer focused design Windows 8 will be exciting to go to. I know I can’t wait.

Best feature of Visual Studio 11

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not going to buy a computer with a data plan

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

In Steven Sinofsky’s Build Keynote address he announced that all of the attendees would get a developer preview Windows 8 tablet computer. To go along with the tablets Microsoft also purchased a one year contract with AT&T to provide 3G data for the tablets. I hope this isn’t a precedence, because I’m not going to buy a computer with a data plan. I’m not. I have a data plan with my Windows Phone 7, but that’s because I have to. They don’t sell them without. I do use the data, but not really. Most days I don’t even turn on the 3G antenna. Most of the time when I do have it on, I’ll only have it on for about five minutes in the day. Now I know what you’re thinking “You’re paying for it, why aren’t you using it?” The reason: battery life.

The battery on my phone lasts about twice as long if I don’t turn on data. The phone is designed to have the data 3G antenna be as frequently connected as the voice antenna, so that way it’s a “snappy” experience when you turn on the phone. What this means for me though is that while I’m not using my phone the antenna is telling the tower “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here” and killing the battery. The wi-fi antenna only turns on when the screen of the phone is activated. As a result it doesn’t unreasonably drain the battery. When I’m at home, I use the wi-fi and when I’m at work I use the wi-fi network they setup to allow devices internet access without network access. There’s rarely a time when I want an internet connection on my phone, and I’m not in either of those places.

Given that I hardly use my phones data connection I know I’ll never desire to use a data connection for a tablet computer. When I’m roaming I’ll have my phone. If the only model for selling a Windows 8 tablets is to have a data plan, I won’t be getting a tablet.

Technology competing with bus driver

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the bus drivers which drives the route I take home is talkative. He also tries to be a sports announcer, but instead of plays for the intersections we’re coming up to. I find it annoying.

Yesterday the bus had an “upgrade” which included a screen on the inside of the bus showing the next major intersection, and a voice telling everyone the updates. The voice was loud, but that was it’s only problem. The bus driver asked if it was loud and we – the passengers – said yes. Apparently he couldn’t change the volume of the voice. But I bet I know what he didn’t like most about the voice; it didn’t let him practice not quite entertaining and therefore annoying location update announcements.

I suspect the problem the county is trying to solve is that I’m sure bus drivers have a mandate to speak into the bus PA system to give regular updates, and must bus drivers probably don’t meet their mandates. Quite frankly I don’t care. I don’t think they’re helpful. The only time I’d need to know something like that is when I’m asleep, and when I’m sleeping or dozing on the bus I’m not going to be paying attention to the audible location updates.

Maybe the bus driver will quit and finally get his dream job of sports announcer.

Unimpressive Windows 8 boot times

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier today the Building Windows 8 blog made a post about improving Windows 8 boot time. A lot of tech blogs have picked up this story. The “major” announcement was that the change was for default shutdown Windows will log off all users and hibernate the kernel. That way, when the computer turns on again, it doesn’t need to restart the kernal. To me, comparing boot times with that trick to Windows 7 boot times is then cheating, because Windows 8 isn’t actually booting. It’s a false comparison. The Win 8 blog post does mention that what actually helps is having a system based on UEFI instead of BIOS; at least there’s that.

Windows Vista did a good job with shortening the time between log in and having a usable desktop by having all of the process that start as part of log in, get started with low priority. Because of the new-for-Vista driver model boot time/log in still felt slow. Many device makers didn’t make Vista specific drivers. I remember the videos and blog postings for Windows 7 resume and boot times. Everyone was very excited. Windows 7 did make a big by parallelizing the boot sequence. Plus driver writers had more time to write drivers that would behave under concurrent boot. So if Windows 7 has a fast boot time what’s all this fuss about for Windows 8?

When Microsoft is doing to bench testing for boot they aren’t including any anti virus’s. Quite frankly they kill boot/login times. Also, real users have to deal with things like group policy settings being applied and AV’s rescaning the whole computer on every log in. Also, the real reason why people see surprisingly long times between power on and a usable desktop is because of a Windows 7 bug where the WMI database is getting corrupted, so WMI is rebuilding the whole database every couple boots/resumes. All of a sudden a computer which normally boots fast takes forever to get a responsive desktop.

The Windows team hopefully bypasses a lot of the real world issues (anything that does too much work on start up) by hibernating the kernel. But if they haven’t fixed the WMI corruption bug, this little trick isn’t going to gain anyone much of anything.

The blog post also has this chart, and at first it made by jaw drop:
I virtually never shutdown any of my computers. If I know I’m going to be using the desktop computer in the next eight hours I let it sleep. If I know I’m not going to use it for the next eight, ten, twelve, twenty-four plus hours, I hibernate it. I guess I can see why the numbers are that way, Windows 7 disabled hibernate by default on desktop computers! I had to dig around the Windows 7 power settings and disable hybrid sleep to enable hibernate. So of course the numbers for hibernate are so small, a user has to bend over backwards to even do it. Since the “impressive” Windows 8 boot time comes from hibernating part of the system (which they did because no one was hibernating), wouldn’t bringing back hibernation acheive the perception of fast boot?

Another thing which did shock me in the blog post was Gab Aul mentioning that many costumers told Windows that they don’t hibernate or sleep because they like refreshing their state and shut down accomplishes that. I’ve never known anyone to have that opinion. If anything else, it’s the opposite. People hate restarting their computer, because they like their user session state. People wail and gnash their teeth when they turn on their computer only to find out that Automatic Update has restarted the computer, forcing the user session to be lost. If anything, I would think that a feature where Automatic Update closes the needed processes, hibernates the users’ session, and then restarts the kernel, would receive more accolades than this announcement.

If Microsoft really wanted to improve boot times, they’d make changes they know are good and not care if it breaks backwards compatibility with some obscure poorly written program (no matter how much Raymond Chen would object), disable Roaming Profiles by default (they’re an overhead that most corporate deployments don’t know they have), and fix the WMI cache. They could go farther by intentionally breaking a lot of backwards compatibility, but I don’t think that would be in their best interest. This little trick here feels like the teams hands are tied on making any real change. I feel sorry for them.

I’m more impressed with the changes made in previous versions of Windows to make boot faster, than I am with what’s currently announced for Windows 8. In spite of that, I have no idea how long it takes my computers to boot/resume. I virtually never sit around and wait for them to do so. There’s always something else to do.

I don’t care about the number of apps

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

One type of figure that different smart phone proponents like waving into each others faces is the number of “apps” that a particular platform has. And I don’t care. First of all, many of the “apps” are crap; they’re a spin on a similar concept spun out by some faceless app factory that’s trying to get more advertising dollars. Even apps created by legitimate companies are nothing more than clients for a web service. Meaning if they created a decent mobile version of their website the app would add no value. The only thing an app would do then, would be a way to get your companies icon on their list of apps. Even then, the app would simply be a link for the browser to open the mobile webpage. It’s like the number of apps you have on your phone is basically the same thing as the number of webpages which exists in your browsers bookmark/favorites list. Thanks heavens each website doesn’t create its own “app” that we have to install on our desktop computers.

On my smart phone I basically use the Bing Maps application and Wordament. There could be millions of more apps, and it doesn’t matter, because I’ll never use them. I virtually never think to myself “I want to do something I could do on a desktop, but on a smaller screen!”. If it weren’t for the mapping application, I’d be fine not having a smart phone, but I do like maps.