Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Choosing settings

Just exactly when did it become the norm to only display the "other" setting that I can get by pushing a button and not the setting that is current. Far too often I have noticed that many web sites, subscriptions, and such offer you the choice to change your setting to something new without appropriately telling you what the current state is. Apparently it is implied that you are in the opposite state: on vs. off, subscribed vs. unsubscribed, however I find this to be a very irritating way to display information. Perhaps I simply want to look at my settings and review them, which is exceedingly difficult with this futuristic view. This permeates the web, video games (see below) and car functions (my radio in my car is frustrating to all get out) IP Phones (Cisco phones being especially irritating in this).

Programmers should be aware that when there are two settings On/Off, simply setting one of them to a color that is somewhat different than the other is not indicative of anything in particular. Perfect example of the is the F1 game on Wii, settings are on/off and indicated by Red vs. White - problem is it isn't clear which is selected. Perhaps a display that simply showed the current state and some method for choosing between the current state and the other state would be useful.

CNN take note of the above - by now many people know that the "yellow" score is the winning or leading team - however without pre-knowledge looking at two things - one yellow and one white - it would not be clear what was supposed to be indicated.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First view of Windows 7

I just knew there would be inane change for change sake. Now instead of having a folder that contains your documents, music, pictures, etc. We now have "Libraries" you have a Document Library, a Music Library, etc. The folder icon looks different than it ever has in the past. This is completely ridiculous, while I fully support enhancement - changing the name of things simply to change the name of things and make stuff look different to justify a revenue stream is just flat out silly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Editing a document should not consume a CPU

Aah my old friend MS-Word. Today I had a document opened and was editing for my daughter. I had change marks turned on so that I could send her the edits and she could review it. I needed to move down a few lines in the document so rather than sliding the mouse I decided to move with the cursor keys. It took forever to move a few lines - I remembered that a while ago I had measured that moving the cursor in MS-Word with change marks on could peg one of my dual core CPUs. Truly amazing that user interaction can peg a CPU. I think it may be impossible to truly express my feelings for the state of MS-Office.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More do it and move on from Google - this time comics

For the past few weeks I have noticed that the Google comics interface no longer allows you to look back at prior dates. This isn't to say the buttons aren't displayed - they simply don't work. Just keep moving forward Google - don't bother to keep stuff working.

Why does Microsoft make life so difficult

Over the past few days I have spent significant time working with Office 2007 specifically Excel. I realized that my client was unable to use my file and "saved it down" as a 2003 version. Of course there were incompatibilities - which is fine - and Excel told me about it - again fine. What it provided no means for - was for me to go to the specific elements and remediate the issues identified. It told me the sheets that were problematic and the types of errors but not the cells themselves. Nor did it offer a good method for validating how the material would look when my client received it. Perhaps, just perhaps they could be considerate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crazy ridiculous requirements for Windows 7

If you want to run Windows 7 on your PC, here's what it takes:

* 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
* 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
* 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
* DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

This stuff wouldn't even run on my refrigerator sized Sun 4/490 from back at Westinghouse. How incredibly ridiculous is that!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time and Date format in Vista

I know I know Windows 7 is out in 3 days, but today this irritated me a lot.

Per this reference @ Microsoft:

I should be able to set the date / time format for all utilities in one place.

Seems only partially true. I was able to at least get 24-hour.

Here's what the time format control panel states:

Here's what I see in outlook which is sort of a blend of long and short formats, but not precisely what I've asked for, where did the ":" come from in the time stamp - I didn't ask for that?!?!?!?. Let's see if W7 is any better - kind of doubt it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Google stock applet gets worse - yeah that's progress......

So today I took a glance at my google front page. Decided to take a look at the stocks.

This shows the google applet that has been there for quite some time.
Google Finance Applet

Now when I click the link for the DOW - I get a list of things to choose from rather than just a detailed chart of the DOW. What a gigantic pile of junk. Let's continue to break things that worked. Has nobody ever heard of regression testing?????

Google Fund List

In case you are wondering here is the chart that I can now get with another click that I used to get (for at least 10 months now) via a single click.

Google Chart

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Printing should work!

Today I lost 3 hours of my life trying to get a Power Point document to print on 11x17 paper. No matter what I tried it continually pushed the margins in about 3-inches all the way around and would never set the document to print @ 10x16 which is what I had set the document size to so that I would have .5" borders all the way around the document. It is truly amazing how incredibly horrible the new versions of the office tools have become. They make things incredibly difficult and yet I was reading yesterday that their goal was to make it easy to produce beautiful documents. Well I for one don't believe it. It is a gigantic pain to do just about anything that I have spent the last 10 years of my life doing. What a lose!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Railing on OLE - Again!

I know, it isn't fair, I should choose another target. This is like kicking someone when they are down. I can't help it. In former lives I was a programmer, and I did a lot of interesting things with computers, alas I have been deprecated and now live with MS-Office - Word, Excel, PPT, and Outlook as 90-95% of what I do so I really need these tools to work for me. Contained below is an error that has plagued me for about 3 or 4 years.

This happens - somewhat at random when trying to open a file from outlook by double-clicking. Now if this isn't supposed to work, then fine I'll simply copy the file to my hard drive and open it from there. Oops! --- You Lose!!!
I'm sure that this has something to do with the fact the Word or Excel or PowerPoint take 2-3 minutes to start and by the time the process has started the inter-process communication has timed out and now the file is gone but wait it isn't gone I don't know. Alls I do know is now if I click the file without closing the application it will once again work correctly. This isn't a Vista thing, this isn't an Office-V.Whatever thing this has been happening on-and-off for me as I said for the past 2 or 3 years. Seems to be odd numbered "dot revs" of MS-Office with even numbered "Service Paks" of Windows, released on Tuesdays that have a full moon, or some such other phase-of-the-moon bug.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CBS MarketWatch - Changes I can live without

Yet another web site lambasted today. CBS MarketWatch decided to change their charting software over the past week. This site formerly had a decent site that showed some interesting things that Google and Yahoo didn't support. It had a lot more detail and insight - oh - and their news feed actually worked better than Google's which I spoke about a few weeks ago. At least they had a way to contact them and provide feedback. Here's the note I sent the - let's see what happens.

      A few weeks ago I set up my charts to show 50,100,200 day moving averages. Today I came back to view charts and the charts had changed a lot. I understand change, however now I can no longer get 50,100,200 day MA, my choices are: 9,50 the click boxes look like they want to offer me the choice of 100,200 alas these do not work. Yet another fine piece of software engineering released upon the the world before it was ready. Which would be fine if you claimed it was Beta - but you didn't you just foisted it onto the world as a brand new feature. Care to discuss - send me an email. You won't.

The trend continues - Get it mostly there, call it a day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Copying and Pasting Should Work - Shouldn't It?

So today I was instantly frustrated when copying a piece of a powerpoint document and sending it to a colleague for review. When I pasted it into outlook, it changed colors from a shade of green to a shade of red. Now I ask you - what could possibly be a valid explanation for this. I don't want to hear about palettes, templates, color cubes, and the like. If I select something in one window, and click copy, it should paste cleanly and properly into another window. This is OLE gone mad. When moving pieces of text from one document to another - it seems like it never gets the formatting right. In the never-ending attempt to get better and cooler, seems many have forgotten that "working simply" is an important thing. Per my quote at the top of the page:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wiki Sorting Problems

Today I was looking up something about HBO. I noticed that there were a few tables on the site. I wanted to see what was the first show that they had produced. I tried to sort by broadcast date. Much to my dismay the sort was skewed. This seems to be yet another example of "get it close" "call it a day". I remember studying the various types of sorts and the efficiency thereof in my very first computer science class. It is truly unfortunate the state that things have become. I can't describe precisely how to fix this because the Wiki stuff is "needlessly complex". Here's the site

Quick Screen shot - last time I checked 2009 was after 1973 - then again perhaps it was because I clicked some of those links (see how they are red) - then again that shouldn't matter should it!?!?!

I am done with QuickenOnline!

I have now deleted all of my quicken online accounts

Let me explain the straw that broke it for me. I just downloaded and synchronized my Mac quicken. Even though I hadn't use it in a few weeks it went mostly smooth and I was able to reconcile all of the outstanding items. It matched very well and the payee information downloaded from my bank looked like reasonable transactions:

Sample Sam's Club. Showed up in Mac as Sam's Club, in QuickenOnline it showed up as: Check Card Purchase XXXXX7509 as did all of my purchases.

My bank provides additional information about the transaction that the Mac version of Quicken pulls in but the online version does not.

It seems dreadfully wrong that as you advance into the online world products would become LESS USEFUL. I CANNOT ADEQUATELY EXPRESS MY LEVEL OF DISAPPOINTMENT.


The statement below is clearly created by someone under the age of 25, and is why I will be looking for some other way and perhaps even going so far as to break all ties to Quicken.

Reconciling - Reconciling is useful for matching up your paper checkbook register with the transactions on your bank statement. But who keeps a paper checkbook register these days? With Quicken Online, you're seeing your bank's transactions right on the screen. To match up your receipts with your bank's list of transactions, you can make an entry in the Note field for each transaction as you check it off as valid.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Coke Rewards Site is Horrific

As anyone who knows me knows, I am an avid drinker of Diet Coke. I collect caps and enter my codes, and get my coupons. This site is loaded with every sort of web control and snazzy, jazzy do-dad you can think of, all rolled into one incredibly slow, hard to use, and difficult to access site. Today I received an "Error during the invocation of the business service". I am confident this is due to the "SOA" craze - Service Oriented Architecture. Unfortunately the business service seems unable to be invoked, and here I thought an invocation was for church. I wasn't sure if this should be a curmudgeon post or a regular post, so I put it here.
Here's the note I just sent them. We'll see if they call.

I am writing to express my EXTREME displeasure at the use of the mycokerewards.com web site. I have been a loyal diet coke drinker for about 15 years. I have entered many many codes, received coupons and free coke. Today I received a "Error during the invocation of the business service" each time I tried to enter my email and password. This is at least the 10th time I have tried to enter or redeem codes, only to have the site frustrate me. I have been a software developer for 25+ years and I can say that while the mycokerewards.com site may not necessarily be the worst site from a "time to load" "overall design" and "user experience" perspective, it is undoubtedly in the top 3 I have encountered. I cannot think of a worse site - although I suppose it is possible one exists. Thankfully your core business is coke and the product continues to be delicious. Should you like to discuss this with me - I would welcome the opportunity for a live discussion with the developers or development management team regarding human interface design and overuse of technology. It certainly seems like every possible thing that can be on a web site is on this web site. Too bad most of them don't work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Google Rant

Once again I must jump onto my high horse about lack of caring in programming and follow through. Google - aka big brother of information collection and dissemination has created a wealth of things from their 'labs' to try out. BTW - almost everything @ Google is in perpetual beta - a great excuse to the question - "why doesn't this.....". Today's object of my disdain - Google finance -- which of course is Beta.

I'm confident after HAL learns of my speakings my account will be disabled or something.

Within this front screen which provides a goodly amount of information, then allows clicks to additional information. In true beta fashion - it also has a way to be displayed in their igoogle interface. This happens to be the method I use. With the market being mostly crazy the past 6 months I click through and read stuff with some level of frequency throughout the day. When clicking "Dow" you come to a screen that shows a 3-month or some other cool looking graph that is scrollable and in general has nice information. On the right is some news feeds - now for the past 6 days the news feeds on the right have been hit or miss at best with miss being far more operative. I haven't seen a real news update in over 6 days, and item "B" is still telling me about Chilean stocks from March 19. Something is clearly amiss in their reporting enginge.

Again - get it mostly there, call it a day - go check Google stock options, play some ping-pong, eat some donuts - or whatever it is developers do now.

BTW - also no way to send them a note and tell them it is broken. At least not that I can find.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Zune Date Problems

So today the Urban word of the day was: Y2K9 - The simultaneous worldwide crash of every 30GB Zune worldwide during the early hours of the morning on Dec 31, 2008. Seems it is related to the following stub of C-code.
year = ORIGINYEAR; /* = 1980 */

while (days > 365)
    if (IsLeapYear(year))
        if (days > 366)
            days -= 366;
            year += 1;
        days -= 365;
        year += 1;
This site has some good discussion of the problem. When in a leap-year and it reaches the last day of the year and can't break out of the outer loop. Hmmm, perhaps a little bit of TESTING! Trying this function with perhaps just a few samples would have revealed this. First off - this is a precise case where this code is needlessy complex, and quite honestly for no reason whatever. There are probably somewhere in the neighborhood of a few thousand routines for dates. Why did they need to invent something new. By the way - the fix is simply to change the days>366 to days>=366.