Vista head scratcher

The next words are “Microsoft Windows Publisher”, and I’m offered two buttons called Continue and Cancel, with Cancel highlighted. At the bottom it says “User Account Control helps stop unauthorized changes to your computer”. It’s hard to think of a more opaque, meaningless piece of rubbish than this one. What’s the user going to do? Well, they’ll probably stab “Continue” in the vague hope that “If you started this action, continue” means a green light. There’s a Details button that’s just so fabulously, groaningly Microsoft that I laughed out loud when I pressed it. You see, the dialog box extends down by one extra line, and beneath the words “Microsoft Windows Publisher” is added the following: “C:WindowsSystem32SLUI.exe’ 0x03.” Well blow me down, it’s that old rascal slui.exe and his sidekick 0x03. Precisely what’s Joe Public supposed to make of this nonsense? By default there was no asking for my password, no real explanation of what’s going on, just a Desktop that dims to grey and an utterly useless bit of garbage thrown onto screen.

Vista head scratcher

This feature received a barrage of criticism during the early betas and a lot of work has been done on it since, but is this really the best that Microsoft could come up with? It’s just dawned on me why I hate it so much – once I’ve pressed the Continue button, the relevant configuration window appears, the dark grey disappears and we’re back in the normal Desktop. Surely if I’m going to be working in sensitive areas of the OS where changes could be damaging to the machine, then I ought to stay in grey world with only the appropriate configuration windows available to me? Only once I was finished could I return to normal world. Going into this badly explained grey world and then opening up the configuration dialog box in the middle of my session just doesn’t feel right. Maybe there are more changes to come before product release…

Memory tools

There are two little things that I now always carry around with me. The first is a dinky little box, smaller than a packet of cigarettes. It has a fold-out USB plug built in, so it’s cable-free – and it’s an 8GB hard disk. The manufacturer, Iomega, has done a stunning job with this device. It’s small enough to drop into suit trousers without looking like you’re carrying an entire toolkit, and yet it’s big enough at 8GB to be really useful. Formatted with FAT32, it can be read by most anything, and it’s quick too.

I’ve also fallen in love with even more dinky SanDisk Ultra II SD memory cards. At 1GB, these are a decent enough size, while performance is good too. However, its party piece is the internal hinge. Snap the device in half, and it folds over, presenting another set of connectors. In this mode, it goes straight into an available USB socket. An utterly brilliant move, because now I don’t need to haul a card reader around with me.

SBS recall

Sometimes I wonder why we bother doing beta testing when Microsoft can mess things up quite comprehensively all by itself. Its latest gaffe is the release of the R2 version of Small Business Server 2003 (SBS2003), which has become the subject of a blanket recall. Some 3,600 Standard Edition customers and 100 Premium Edition customers received code that was, shall we say, “suboptimal”. Apparently, the wrong versions of various components were on the install CDs and DVDs. The wording was suitably calming: “Microsoft recently became aware, during a regular audit of the product media (CDs and DVDs), that Microsoft Windows SBS2003 R2 contained non-final versions of some of the programs. Because Microsoft has only just released Windows SBS2003 R2 to our manufacturing partners (OEMs, system builders, and distributors) and the product is not yet generally available, the scope of this concern for partners and customers is very limited.”

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