22 May 2009

Windows Live Messenger makes me cry

For years I’ve had MSN Messenger installed so I can chat with friends and family. Recently Microsoft release a new version, Windows Live Messenger 2009. (Does it hurt them too much to think of a short name I can spit out in just a couple of syllables?)

I installed it and it crashed every single time I tried to log in. There was no facility to report the bug yet alone take out my frustration with some anonymous support guy.

6 or 8 weeks had passed and I thought surely they have fixed the bug by now. I can’t be the only user out of a million who fell foul of the 2009 release. So I installed it again from their “Essentials” online installer and BAM! It crashed again. Aaargh!

My attempt to defy Microsoft by uninstalling Messenger was blocked by the small fact that I couldn’t find an uninstall option anywhere on my computer. Nothing in the Start menu and nothing in Add/Remove Programs. Oh how I despise thee. For art thee friend or foe? I really do wonder sometimes.

7 May 2009

Windows 7 RC downgraded my graphics

After battling through an incompatibility problem with AVG after upgrading from Vista (spit!), I was very pleased with Windows 7. It’s performance, looks and usability have all been improved.

Windows 7 rated my graphics card (ATI X1700 built into the laptop) as 4.4 for “Graphics” which is pretty good. Then I was alerted to some updates including one for ATI graphics which was unexpected. After the update and a reboot I re-ran the performance test and was astonished that it downgraded my respectable 4.4 rating to a measly 2.1. I ran it again to check and it was the same.

The “Gaming Graphics” rating remained at 3.3. So Windows 7 after the update reckons my card is more capable of 3D gaming that it is of moving 2D windows around the screen.

The most annoying thing is, Microsoft removed the reporting tool from the release candidate so I can’t inform Microsoft about this problem. Like everyone else I just have to blog about RC problems instead.

3 May 2009

Twitter drives me cuckoo

I had deliberately avoided using Twitter because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to micro-blog every mundane thought or action, and even more so why would anyone want to be bombarded by other people’s mundane thoughts?

You’ve got to get your hands dirty to fully understand some things in life so I rolled up my sleeves and set up a Twitter account and installed what looks like one of the best Twitter desktop clients, TweetDeck, which uses Adobe AIR.

I became a follower of about 15 people, quite a lot  I thought at the time, until I saw that others were following 100’s of people. Only 3 of my 12 regularly tweeted, sometimes several tweets each per hour. Where do these people get the time from to stop what they’re doing and compose a 140 character thought to share with others? Perhaps they were unemployed or had a very dull office job. Not at all, they’re very busy people working in the IT world, yet they have developed a mental condition that I couldn’t fathom which had become a compulsion to tweet about what they’re doing right now, what they think about something, or where they’re about to go. (Guys, if you’re reading this then I apologise, but at least your flames will be restricted to 140 characters!!! Ha-ha-ha! ;-)

TweetDeck interrupted my train of thought throughout the day alerting me to new tweets. About 1 a day turned out to be interesting, pointing to a URL containing something useful to my job or interesting in my capacity as a concerned citizen.

Celebrities clearly enjoy Twitter as it gives them a platform to perform and to be adored for every waking hour in their life. And fans who live and breath their idol can relish in their activities and musings all day and every day. Stephen Fry is one of the most followed twitterers with nearly half a million people clinging to his occasionally amusing tweets. There was that incident a few months ago where he was stuck in a lift (elevator) and twittered about it from his mobile phone and drew some optimism from his followers who replied to give him support during that very long 30 minute experience, stuck in a confined space with a load of strangers who no doubt started to smell after a short while.

My conclusion is pretty much what I expected before trying Twitter. If you didn’t have a compulsive disorder before using it then you’ll probably develop one after a week. It’s like drilling holes in your life, you’ll leak valuable time during the course of the day achieving very little by twittering or reading every tweet flashed up at you.

I reckon Twitter will be a phase, a fashion lasting a couple of years, or it will mature into something more sensible that can be better controlled or filtered or used in applications for a genuine practical purpose. Speaking of which, there’s a ColdFusion Twitter library that looks very good which gave me an idea of using Twitter in a constructive way for an existing application.