My Writings. My Thoughts.

A tale of 2 upgrades

// January 11th, 2010 // No Comments » // Featured, Rant

Differences between Apple and Micrsoft explained

Differences between Apple and Micrsoft explained

A few months back, I elected to upgrade my MacBook’ operating system from Leopard to Snow Leopard, Apples latest and greatest incantation. I was a little apprehensive, having never done an OS upgrade on an Apple machine before (My MacBook is my first). Would it screw up my existing settings? Would my applications still work? Would it install useless crap that I’d have to spend days deleting just to make it useful? And most importantly, would have to find a free weekend in which to do it?

Not having a free weekend, and feeling a little bit cocky, I decided to install it while watching TV one night. Here’s how it went down…

  1. Insert DVD into MacBook and follow instructions on the screen
  2. Confirm with password that I authorize the update, yep…
  3. Churn, Churn, Churn (5 mins)
  4. OK a few questions about what options I want to activate or not
  5. Churn, Churn, Churn, Churn (30 mins or so…. was caught up in the show I was watching)
  6. Beep, Reboot… what the hey… it’s done?
  7. Test, everything works as it did before!

Less than an hour and I was completely done, no fuss, no muss.

Fast forward to this last weekend. My in-laws purchased a new HP PC in October with Windows Vista Premium on it. It came with a free upgrade to Windows 7, which we applied for right away. Last week, the DVD finally arrives in the mail and I go over there to help them do the upgrade. Here is how that went down:

  1. What the hey? There are 2 DVDs, one from HP labelled “Upgrade Assistant”, the other the Windows 7 upgrade. Hmmm…. and just why does the upgrade need an assistant I wonder?
  2. Review instructions
    1. Perform Full Backup…. that will take forever, let’s skip it
    2. Run Windows update to make sure Vista is full up to date… I have auto updates on, so why do I need to do this? Skip this step too.
    3. Run the Upgrade Assistant… OK
    4. Run the Windows 7 upgrade… OK
  3. HP Upgrade Assistant
    1. Churns away for 20 mins, then tells me I have to reboot and the start again.
    2. Reboot and start again…. churns away loading all the crap it did in the previous 20 mins and then takes a bit longer….
    3. Tells me to remove the Assistant DVD and insert, the Windows 7 Upgrade DVD…. OK, except it doesn’t tell you it has locked up your DVD drive and won’t release it until you cancel the message…. argh
  4. Windows 7 upgrade
    1. Churns away, looks like it’s doing something…. 20 mins…. still looks like it’s doing something
    2. 30 mins in, tells me I have 8 applications that may not work with Windows 7 and recommends I remove them… Bollock to that… this isn’t some ancient crap I loaded on, it’s a 3 month old machine…. OK, ignore and deal with the consequences later
    3. 60 mins in, prompts me to allow the program to run…. I wouldn’t have started it in the first place, but, OK… carry on.
    4. 2 hours in, some other function it is running now wants permission to continue… OK, go for it
    5. Over the next hour, 5 more prompts to grant permission to run… come on guys, this is painful
    6. 4 hours…. finally complete
  5. Post Upgrade Process (yes, upgrading is not enought_
    1. Run Upgrade Assistance one more time… wants to check for HP specific upgrades… OK, I guess
    2. Now wants me to run Windows Update again…. didn’t the upgrade program already do that, multiple times? OK, waste another 10 mins of my time.
  6. Finally done… 4+ hours

So…. with Apple I had a less than an hour experience, which pretty much took care of itself. With Microsoft, I had to sit and watch it (almost) constantly, for 4 hours. That’s 4 hours of my life I won’t be getting back, I have half a mind to send Steve Balmer an invoice.

Now I am not saying Windows 7 isn’t a good product, but come on Microsoft, you gotta stop burdening your customers like this.

So word to the wize, if you are considering upgrading to Windows 7, take a good hard look at a Mac.

A day in the life of the Internet

// December 11th, 2009 // No Comments » // Featured, Tech Culture, The InterWeb Thingy, Web 2.0

This long graphic put’s the size and impact of the Internet into perspective. How can you look at this and not see the potential. Little if any of it existed 20 years ago. It is both humbling and exciting at the same time.

A Day in the Internet
Created by Online Education

Mozilla’s Ubiquity is a great concept

// November 18th, 2009 // No Comments » // Collaboration, Cool Tech, Featured, Tech for the masses, Web 2.0

If you don’t use Firefox for web browsing, this probably won’t be of much use to you. On the other hand, if you don’t use Firefox for browsing… why not try it. OK, enough on that…. here’s the real intent of this article.

It may be old news to some, but I recently discovered the Ubiquity Project from Mozilla. What is it? Well the best way to understand that is to view the introductory video below:

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

If you didn’t watch the video… Ubiquity is a natural language based command interface that allows techies and non-techies alike, to create instant mashups as they browse and work on the web.

Although it’s integration with other web sites and web apps is still limited, it is conceptually a great idea, and the list of commands is growing everyday. I find my self using the easy twitter update and weather update constantly. I use the translate command daily as well. It also makes for quick short cuts to almost every web based utility out there, be it Google, Wikipedia or Youtube, etc…

If you use Gmail, you can really do some cool mashup, quite easily, but I wouldn’t make that a reason to switch to Gmail if you are happy with what you are using for Email. Now, if someone smarter than I builds an interface to Google Wave, then the possibilities will be endless.

Sad but true

// October 26th, 2009 // No Comments » // Featured, Humour, Rant, The business of IT

With the release of Windows 7. Microsoft has addressed most of the issues with Vista, but have still make things far more complicated than they need to. The graph below is a little tongue in cheek, but really…. in this day and age, why can’t we have an OS that is Stable, User Friendly AND customizable? Inquiring minds want to know.

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs

I currently have a love/hate relationship with all 3.

Symmetry in Math

// October 16th, 2009 // No Comments » // Cool Tech, Featured, Just plain bizarre

I’ve never been a math wiz, and I can honestly say it was one of my least favourite subjects in school. However, I do have a deep appreciate for the power of math and am continually surprised and fascinated by mathematical symmetry. Here are a few examples. There is no real point to this other than it’s cool. Enjoy!

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

My search for a Paperless Business Card

// October 9th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Collaboration, Featured, IT Professionalism, Web 2.0

I remember, somewhat fondly, my first PDA (the original Palm). It had an Infrared port that allowed you to “beam” your business card to another similarly equipped Palm devices. I remember thinking, this is great, this will spell the end of paper business cards. Well, too many years later, we are still a drift in a sea of paper business cards.

OK, my Palm example was fraught with problems. First you had to find someone with a an IR enabled Palm, then they had to have the IR enabled, they had to have pre-setup their business card in their contacts, and then you had to get them physically pretty close to make it work. I quickly abandoned my use of beaming business card and went back to the old school paper cards.

Well, the other day I said to myself, surely there has got to be some better options available today, and so I went on the hunt for a simple, yet easily distributable, virtual (paperless) business card.

My criteria was simple, what I wanted was:

  1. Need to be able to store my particulars (for free)… duh
  2. Need to easily be able to share it with people
  3. Would be nice if the recipient didn;t have to manually re-enter my data
  4. Was cool enough that those I gave it to might be interested in trying themselves
  5. Elegant

Of all the options out there, here are the ones I tested (in no particular order):

  • is trying to be the of the virtual business card world. Here is a link to my business card. Although the interface is slick and I am happy with the appearance of the final product, it took me quite a bit of time fiddling with the settings to make it all fit within the displayed card (initially, it ran over and looked like crap). They also don’t have a field for your Title, although they do have the ability to add your own fields. In the end, to make it look nice, I ended up having to put my title and company name within the address box, which of course makes the download able Vcard useless for someone trying to load my info into their contacts automagically.
    Rating: Doesn’t fit the bill (or the Bill for that matter).
  • DUB
    This was one of the easiest to setup and worked as advertised. However, there is no way to share this card in a URL. You need to send an Email, or use a downloadable Blackberry app to it to your recipient. When your new contact gets the link, it asks them to sign up to DUB in order to store your info in their contact list. It’s too bad, because if they had my card URLable, I probably would have liked this the best.
    Rating: Fail…. don’t force the people I send it to, to sign up for the service!
  • Hoocard
    This was by far the coolest bizcard setup I tried, but they fall short in a couple of areas. Most notably, it doesn’t appear to be supported by anyone. Following their Contact link, took me to a page that gave me another link to go to, which when I went there, told me they had merged with someone else. In the end it was just too difficult to find an email address where I could send a simple question.
    Having said that, one of the cool things about Hoocard is that you can set up multiple business cards (ie: one business and one personal) and send which ever one is situationally appropriate. They have an interesting delivery mechansim as well. They give you a unique email address for each card you setup. To send someone your info, you address an Email to that unique hoocard email address, and enter the recipients email address in the subject line, and hit send. The recipient receives an email which contains the graphical representation of my business card, and an attached Vcard so they can load it into their contacts.
    No where on the site does it show you a direct URL to your card, but I managed to figure it out. Here is a link to my business Hoocard and my personal Hoocard.
    Rating: Does the job, I like the multiple card options, but I don’t like having to hunt for the URL
  • BusinessCard2
  • BusinessCard2 is by far the most professional of the group and is very simple and easy to use. Although they lack the fancy “send” options of some other players, it sets up an easily rememberable URL and does have the option to email the link to your intended recipient. Unfortunately, it only allows you one email address per profile/card, and I originally used my personal email, but entered my company info. So now I have 2 cards, one for work and one personal.. Here is personal BusinessCard2 card and here is my work one.
    After all my testing, this is the one I’ve landed on as my default online business card. It was easy to setup and is easily distributable. Just send your intended recipient the URL and they can go to the site and view your card as well as download a Vcard. The one thing I’d like to see them change though would be to send the actual Vcard with the email that contains the link, so save the recipient the extra step.
    Rating: Best of the lot
  • Do it yourself option
    Just for fun, I tried a little do it yourself project. I found a cool looking WordPress theme that did one thing and one thing only…. present your info in a cool way. Here is a link to my DIY Card.
    Although somewhat cool, it has the drawback of not having a downloadable Vcard. I suppose I could build one and insert a link, but…. meh…. I’lll stick with BusinessCard2 for now.
    Rating: Cool now that I have done it, but too much work if you are looking to do it yourself.

So, from this point forward, I will be sending people my paperless card rather than giving them a real one.

Rant: Focus on the problem, not the solution

// October 7th, 2009 // No Comments » // IT Professionalism, The business of IT

Anyone who has been in IT for a while, has been hit with users bringing you their solutions, and asking for help to implement, rather than explaining their problems and asking for help developing potential solutions. If you are not careful, you can easily get caught up in the trap of providing good customer service (ie: trying to help them) rather than servicing the customer well.

This was brought home to me again this week when asked for my opinion on a “solution” that had been in the works for several weeks. My first question was, what is the problem you are trying to solve? What I got back was, what their solution would do. Rather than go in the specifics of this situation (it happens to be something confidential within my company), here are a few well know examples that illustrate the problem.

Example 1

The problem: When both the US and the Russians started sending people into space, they discovered that ball point pens didn’t work in zero gravity.

Focus on the Solution: Nasa developed a pen that worked in zero gravity, worked upside down, worked underwater, would write on just about any surface, and would function in -300C temperatures.  The cost… $12 million

Focus on the Problem: The Russians used a pencil. Cost… well you get the picture.

Example 2

The Problem: Two Japanese manufacturers of soap, had received complaint from a customers that had purchased boxes of hand soap with no bar of soap in the box. In both case, they problem turned out to be on the packaging line.

Focus on the Solution: Company A, the larger of the two, had their engineers design an elaborate addition to the packaging line, in the form of an x-ray machine that would scan each box as it went thru the line, and required someone to constantly monitor and removed the empty boxes from the packaging line.

Focus on the Problem: Company B had a creative employee who setup a fan beside the line where the boxes of soap were passing. The boxes with soap in them were heavy and stayed on the line, the empty ones got blown off. Simple, elegant and cheap.

The morale of this story is…. make sure you understand the problem before you jump to solutions.

I fell in love at the Apple Store

// September 28th, 2009 // No Comments » // Cool Tech, Featured, Tech Culture

Apple has done a great job of marketing, portraying the PC as being uncool, and Apple products as being very cool (and for the most part they are right). Myself, being a long term PC user, am quickly becoming a MAC convert, and not just to be cool… really, but it doesn’t hurt either 🙂

So you know it was inevitable, with Apple being at the core of pop culture, that pop culture would pay homage to Apple in the form of a music video. It’s actually quite a catchy little tune, and I’m finding myself humming it to myself. So, for a glimpse at what I think will be the next viral internet hit…. take a look.

How to hide from responsibility – Russian Style

// August 28th, 2009 // No Comments » // Just plain bizarre

OK, so here is another non-IT related video, but it was too cool to pass up. I am putting it here more so I can go back and laugh at it, than my need to share it. However, it is pretty funny…. It’s in Russian, but you don’t need any translation.

Too much time on their hands – Extreme Sheep herding

// August 17th, 2009 // No Comments » // Cool Tech, Just plain bizarre

So… this is not a technology related post, but something too cool to pass up. The video below shows a group of sheep herders with far too much time on their hands, doing some pretty amazing feats of herding. Don’t worry is sheep herding is not your thing, you will appreciate the humour.