Archive for the ‘Windows 7 applications’ Category

Having given you the heads-up two days ago, I knew I had to try it out for YOUR sake, especially since I noticed the interest in my initial post.

Lets be clear on one thing, UP FRONT, to avoid recrimination and remorse.

Right now, IE 9 is not in BETA.

Unless you are a confirmed masochist, who only looks at 3 Web pages a day, there is really no way that you can use the IE 9 ‘Test Drive’ as your primary browser.

Microsoft, right now, provides two things:

  1. ‘Speed’ (no, not drugs), HTML5 and graphics demos. You can experience the demos WITHOUT downloading the IE9 PREVIEW. Click <here> for the demos.
  2. PREVIEW version of IE9, from the <same page as the demo>, though the PREVIEW is intentionally disabled so that you won’t mistake it for a beta.

I tried the demos and DOWNLOADED the PREVIEW. Honest.

IE9, according to Microsoft, fully exploits the graphic acceleration capabilities of your video card — if you have one installed.

OK. I have a high-end video card, an ASUS GTX260 896MG. I tried the ‘Map Zooming’ demo. That was pretty impressive. Yes, it flew. Google eat your heart out.

I tried all the demos. The ‘Flying Images’ one is too psychedelic for me. What is it trying to do, what is it trying to prove? Just looks like a mess to me. What would have been so wrong with doing something with fractals. I guess since Microsoft only employs high-school dropouts there is nobody at Redmond who has heard of fractals.

The pulsating bubbles is LAME as is Falling Balls. If they were going to show a demo of ‘falling balls,’ I would have thought they would at least show us a clip of Ballmer in drag.

The PREVIEW left me cold. Yep, I tried it on a couple of my Web sites. No question. It was somewhat quick. But, I, however, doubt whether Microsoft will ever convince me to use IE. I haven’t used IE as my default browser since c. 2005. I also stopped using OutLook and OutLook Express around 2008. I count these as two of the BEST decisions I have made in my life.

So … bottom line … IE 9 is NOT in beta. Just DEMO and PREVIEW. If you want cool graphics … play with fractals. Tell Microsoft to demo IE 9 using fractals and that we would love to see a video of Ballmer in drag, with or without falling balls.

Good luck.

Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

You have to, sometimes, begrudgingly, hand it to Microsoft. They are a tenacious bunch of bastards … with no shame. Given that just last week they admitted that there is yet another MAJOR security hole in IE 6/7 you would think they would abandon IE as a lost cause and let users choose between FireFox, Chrome, Opera etc.

They are now previewing IE 9. I kid you not. IE 9 does not run on XP. You need Vista or Windows 7.

Here is Microsoft’s TEST DRIVE site for IE 9. IE 9 is not complete. It is probably ridden with security holes, like a condom with pin pricks. I don’t use IE. I have enough problems in my life without voluntarily courting disaster. But, if you are interested. I don’t recommend it. Go have a few glasses of red wine first. That will clear up your synapses. IE is a drug. A bad drug. Avoid it.

Good luck.

Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

I had turned off Windows 7 updates on February 13, albeit after I installed the contentious batch of February 9 updates. I don’t get good vibes about what is happening on the Updates front, at present. Though WAT update, KB971033, hasn’t wreaked havoc, as yet, I don’t trust that one — and I have a bona fide, legit copy of Windows 7 Professional. I would not be surprised if KB971033 clobbers more users of valid copies of Windows 7 than it does those with pirated copies. That just seems to be the Microsoft way — just as, Ballmer looking best in drag.

Well, KB977863, specifically for the Windows 7 Media Player intrigued me. I have had problems with the Media Player from the start. It also appears that I am not alone and that Microsoft knew of these Media Player problems before Windows 7 was released. The bug fix list for KB977863 is rather esoteric — and didn’t list ‘FIXES the widely reported fails to start problem.’ But, I have a sneaking feeling that Microsoft might have snuck in some code to fix this basis problem — in much the same way that Ballmer likes to snuck about in drag. So, I went ahead and checked what updates were outstanding.

There were 8. Three were marked IMPORTANT, but one was the all too frequent update to Windows Defender. << This was actually the first Windows Defender update since Feb. 12. In the past we got these updates much more frequently, sometimes two in a week. >>

One was KB971033, which was marked optional. So I opted out of that.

I installed the other seven, successfully. They were: KB977863 [Media Player], KB976662, KB979306, KB915592 [Windows Defender], KB978637, KB979099 [Rights Management] & KB976264. Some of the ‘generic’ Windows 7 updates were for relatively innocuous issues such as incorrect daylight saving date calculation and sleep mode with some Intel processors. They didn’t look too scary.

With my book published and a 19-page technical White Paper on mainframe management I had to write, in a hurry, now done, I have some latitude with POTENTIAL system outages. On Thursday night we lost power for the whole night. High winds. We now have two generators. [As a mainframe guy I like redundant hardware.] I powered up the generators. Though I have UPSs, I decided not to power up this Windows 7 rig with its 720W power supply. Instead I cranked up one of XP machines. I could continue to work seamlessly on the White Paper (using copies backed up online and on an USB key). So I know I can go for a few days IF these updates screwed me up.

But, so far, so good. Yes, I had to do a restart.

I will keep you posted. Good luck.

Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

No, I have not tried it, as yet, with Windows 7.

But my free trial on my latest XP box expired today. Despite Avast’s conniption in December with its false positives, there was no way I was running a PC with Avast. I like Avast. Yes, there has been a few false positives over the year, the one in December, by far, the worst. But, in general, Avast has been solid and it inspires confidence.

So, I used their instructions and bought a license for $39.95. In the past they would then give me a key and I would copy-and-paste it into an input trench … and Bob, was my uncle.

Not anymore. Part of this was also because they now wanted me to upgrade to 5.0. However, since I didn’t even know there was a 5.0 this was confusing.

Anyway, the installation was NOT GOOD. Avast, you need to revisit the installation.

Yes, it worked. But, it didn’t accept the product key the first time around. Now they SAVE the key in a file they download. I had to double-click on this file to get the key installed.

Then it said my definitions were not updated and my attempt to manually update it … HUNG up Avast! Not good.

But after three restarts of XP I was all set.

They also changed their spinning globe icon. It is now a catchy red-orange.

Also gone is the geeky, 14 year olds would love it interface with the changeable skins. There is now a very professional, grown-up, no-nonsense, WYSIWYG interface. Very nice. I did a deep scan of the PC. Clean. I accepted it to be clean. I had been running Avast 4.8 Professional (free trial) on it from day one. First thing I installed after FireFox.

Bottom line. Installation needs work. New interface rocks.

Good luck.

Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

Last night, just after I had looked at a PDF document, I noticed what looked like a gray version of the EU flag in my Task Bar ‘tray’ [at the right-hand end].

Clicked on it. It was Adobe Updater saying that there was an update to Adobe Acrobat Professional 9.3 and Adobe Reader 9.3.

I was kind of glad. I had been waiting for a new update.

I had repaired my legit, Adobe Acrobat Professional 9.3 a week ago after its first crash.

I always like to see an update after I repair Acrobat because this refreshes the code and makes sure that much of it is OK.

I didn’t have to look. I knew the update had to do with security. I installed it. Worked OK. Required a restart.

As I had mentioned before, Adobe updates are nicely integrated with Windows 7. The Windows 7 Update History records the updates. I checked, via Action Center. The Adobe Updates were all logged and marked as successful.

Today, I went looking in Adobe.com for the Release Notes for 9.3.1. Yes, it was a security update. If you are interested, here is the Adobe Security Bulletin.

So far, so good. Good luck.

Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

At first sight the Windows 7 calculator looks no different to what we had with XP.

But in reality there is a brand new, rather powerful calculator in Windows 7 — albeit with a frustratingly deficient, non-Windows GUI.

The Windows 7 calculator has some really cool features. These are:

  1. Date Calculations: Work out the difference, i.e., time span, between two dates. Check how many days you have been on this earth. Since I am also a papal historian in my spare time, this is real handy for me. I am always having to work out how long a pope reigned, how old he was or how long it took before he held his first consistory.
    I typically use Excel’s =DATEDIF for this. [=DATEDIF is a now undocumented Excel function. I have never found an explanation as to why it is not documented. Just another Ballmer quirk. Google =DATEDIF. Very useful.]
    he Windows 7 date calculation [that you access from the VIEW menu] is nearly as powerful as =DATEDIF. With =DATEDIF you can get the ‘difference’ in years, months or days. The calculator gives you years:months: days and then also days. =DATEDIF only works with dates after 1904 (or thereabouts). The calculator goes back to 1601! I checked. I kind of thought it would stop around there. WHY? The Gregorian calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII who mandated it) kicked-in in 1582. Ten days got wiped out! Yep. So doing date calculations get messy around that time. For me, as a papal historian, 1601 is pretty recent. [But that covers all of US history … right? << smile >>] By 1601 we had already had 232 of the 266 popes.
    [I, à la one of the Y2K solutions, use ’tiling’ to work with earlier dates. Tiling basically means you shift the age up; so if I am calculating dates between 1218 and 1378, I treat them as 1918 to 2078].
  2. Unit Conversion: Wow. It does temperature, weight, area, length, power etc. etc. Pretty impressive. I have this conversion Web site bookmarked, but now I will use the calculator more and more.
  3. Worksheets: Yes, like a micro-Excel it provides worksheets, again from the VIEW menu, for calculating mortgages, leases and gas mileage! Pretty damned neat. Now you can, with a few keystrokes, work out how much underwater you are with your mortgage.
  4. History: You can access a journal of the calculations you have made previously. Handy.
  5. Digital Grouping: [Get YOUR mind off the gutter.] If you are European like ME, and like to see a COMMA [that is one of ‘,’] between groups of 3 digits … the calculator will do that too. VIEW menu.

Yes, IF you go an STUDY Microsoft’s Windows 7 features, the CALCULATOR is listed as one of the standout features. I will concur.

PIN it to your Task Bar and Bob can then be your uncle [unless Windows 7 loses the icon.]


Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

I have been using (a legit copy of) Adobe Acrobat Professional 9  [initially 9.2 but now 9.3 ], with Windows 7, on a near daily basis since November 2009.

Though there have been a few quirks [print-to-file prompt doesn’t appear at front & icon inconsistencies], Adobe Acrobat 9, in general, has been resilient and rugged — a far cry from the ever so fickle and fragile Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional.

Until last Wednesday I had, to my delight, not experienced a single crash. To ME, that is bloody miracle. Acrobat and I go back a long time. I started using it in 1996 or 1997 … with Acrobat 4. During my first 10 years of using Acrobat, I easily lost 5 years of life expectancy due to the undue stress caused to me by Acrobat. I also pulled out large volumes of my hair — which is why I look pretty bald, unless I am wearing one of my cheap toupees (and I am sorry to have used pretty in a sentence that relates to me, since I am in no way a pretty sight).

Wednesday was CRUNCH time. I was scrambling to get my book done and uploaded so I could get a printed galley proof.

I was creating new PDFs, each around 5-7 MBs, every few minutes and then, on a regular basis, combining 18 PDFs to create a 30MB PDF — that being THE BOOK.

When I was doing one of those 18 files ‘compiles’ Adobe Acrobat 9.3 Professional CRASHED. [The crash is even noted in the Windows 7 Reliability History].

My heart sank. I had vision that getting my book completed was not going to happen. I had to gulp down two handfuls of nitroglycerin pills (and since I am a Brit, each of my handfuls is BSH, a British Standard Handful and measurement I also use for gauging other entities).

But …

But …

Acrobat resurrected itself, all by itself, miraculously, and continued to work on my document.

Miracles never cease. I was in shock. I took another BSH of nitroglycerin pills just to be on the safe side … plus I like their sugary taste.



I got the book done. Used Acrobat quite a bit that day, after the crash, and it did fine … though I can’t say the same about my poor, dickey heart (so badly damaged by Adobe Acrobat 4, 5 & 6).

The next day, with the book at the printer, I really tried to put Acrobat through its paces. Could not make it crash. Even when dealing with a 17.98″x11.25″ document, with zero margins. [That is the one-piece cover.]


I used to be VERY INTIMATE with Adobe’s ‘Detect and Repair’ feature with Acrobat 6. I would have to run it at least once a month.

It would always ask me for my Adobe Install Disk.

9.2 I downloaded. I didn’t have a disk.

So I have refrained from running Acrobat 9’s new ‘Repair Acrobat Installation’ — in case it asked me for a disk.

Do you get the feeling that I don’t TRUST Adobe. Wonder why.

But, on Thursday, I had time. If Adobe got its fancy, embroidered I had time to download a new version, call my lawyer, call my cardiologist etc. Did I tell you that the book was at the printer?

The damn thing worked! Miracles never cease.

It didn’t ask me for a disk. Ballmer be praised, but he still looks best in drag.

Said it was going to take 14 bloody minutes. On this rig that is CRAZY.

Well it didn’t take 14 minutes. Took about 4 minutes. But the time remaining was wrong right till the end. Adobe, obviously, has not calibrated their timings for i7s.

Anyway … the REPAIR worked.

I haven’t had a crash still. But, that doesn’t MEAN ANYTHING. It could crash the next time I use it.

Did I mention that I don’t trust Adobe? Give me a break. I am old. Memory isn’t that good. It is DDDR1 with missing parity.


I see folks coming here, DAILY, looking for solace with Adobe. So I am trying to help.

Good Luck. We need it.


Anura Guruge

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »