Google Desktop Search vs. Ignorance

Google has released a beta tool that allows a user to search through Outlook, AIM, IE and Text files on a pc. Sounds pretty cool, though I do wish they’d broaden their horizons a bit. Of course they’re looking to appeal to the lowest common denominator, so whatever.

Privacy advocates are unsurprisingly going ape-shit over the fact that Desktop Search is user-independant. That is to say, it searches the whole computer, and not just the user’s files. Hello? World? This is Windows. This is not Unix or Linux or OSX or whateverthefuck. Despite the advances they have made, Windows is still essentially built for the single user in mind. Users can essentially access anything on an NT based device by using the advanced search function. Securing individual users’ files is something that is not enabled by default. So why the fuss? Google is simply taking advantage of the inherent lack of security in Windows. They had a choice: restrict the search to just the user profile, or provide something useful and search the actual locations of where people (and shitty programs) store their data.

Nothing to see here people, move along.

Nooooo! Firefox 1.0PR

Firefox 1.0 Preview Release is out, and while totally great, it BREAKS THE BEST EXTENSION OF ALL TIME. I speak, of course, of the Bookmarks Sync extension. Please sir, update it soon.
The new find feature, which places the find bar in a little toolbar on the bottom of the page, is a very nice touch:

Technology Conspiracy A Go Go

According to many sources, Virtual PC 7 was going to ship with office 2004, which is now shipping. VPC7 is now pushed back to the fall. Why? Microsoft is hoping to dull consumer interest in G5 purchases and possibly the release of G5 imacs by holding off on shipping it. All the holdouts waiting for VPC on their G5s are now forced to wait even longer.

The Myth of the Pentium

Tonight I saw a commercial for some shitty Gateway PC (man, whoever does their case design should be shot) and the climax of the commercial was, “And it runs the Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT Technology, so you can run multiple programs!” What?

I choose to write about technology because the current world scene has me so nuts I am simply blocking it out at this point.

Microsoft Just Doesn’t Get It

Microsoft, from Bill Gates down, has lately been taking a stance on security as follows:

Yes, we have made mistakes, but you know, if our users would just keep their machines updated and take some responsibility and not be idiots, everything would be fine.

In some sense, that could be true- if you were selling Windows to a group of computer professionals with fast network connections and a seasoned understanding of computer security. The truth of the matter is that since Windows 95 Microsoft has not been in the business of selling Windows to computers as a somewhat technical one-size-fits-all-if-you-know-what-you’re-doing operating system, but rather an easy to use, user friendly appliance that will get you on the net, play your music, show you videos and play your games, all with the click of that magical start button. Let’s get something clear here- a lot of users don’t understand the concept multiple users in windows, let alone the fact that there is a user called Administrator that they can’t get to but also happens to have a blank password by default. And that is just one tiny piece of the modern windows OS. Windows is definitely dumbed down compared to, say, Linux; it is not in any way an easy to use operating system for people who do not have a thorough understanding of what it is they are using. Every day we have to clear virii and spyware off of people’s computers because they just click yes whenever something pops up on their computer. Every day we have to help people recover files because they don’t know or understand where the files are on their computer- they thought they were on the desktop. How many people do you know have computers that just slowly stopped working, or who couldn’t get their MSN to work, or happened to have a Windows Smartphone that simply did not work in any way as advertised (okay, that is my own personal beef, thanks to those who happen to run my place of work).

Once you step passed that Start Menu, there is very little that is intuitive or easy to use about windows. People don’t understand that it is actually microsoft telling them they have new updates to install- a lot of people think its just another spyware thingy. Most people in the US still don’t even have the bandwidth to download the patches even if they are automatically installed. And this is to say nothing of those unfortunate broadband users who have NT based devices on unfirewalled, unroutered lines- just waiting for someone to access their C$ drive with the Administrator username and blank password- and that is how the product ships! Dawn’s Mom actually knew about the XP Firewall on her system, she just had no idea that it wasn’t on or how to turn it on. “Why would they do that?” she asked. Why indeed? To simplify the user experience of course. Because users don’t know how to use it anyway, right? Then it should have shipped in a less complex form. Of course, if you go to the network connections on a DSL user’s computer, there are a number of available network connections, so which one would they think to even turn the firewall on, had they even known how to turn it on.

The Mac OS has its flaws, but in many ways it is implemented in an elegant, easy to use way. Sure there’s a lot hidden underneath, but I really believe the average user has less a need to get to that stuff than does the Windows user. At least the unix stuff in osx is hard to get to. In windows, the system files are simply hidden from view but can be shown by the click of a single button. And you get to that button by clicking on icons that are clearly visible in ‘My Computer’. “There was a bunch of stuff on my C drive I didn’t need, like boot.ini. Yes, I know it is hidden by default.

I could go on, but I shall refrain. Conclusion? As long as Microsoft sells essentially a single operating system to every single customer it has, without regards to their actual needs and with the mindset that a lot of security will not be dealt with until human error is wiped out- as opposed to conceding that the need to reduce the possibility of human error will ultimately have a longer lasting effect for users who were told that the appliance they just bought does actually ‘just work‘, Windows will continue to be the shitstorm that it is.

Sometimes you get what you wish for…

Well, a few weeks ago I talked about Leo being off the screen savers…now he’s officially no longer with TechTv. I have to say I’m surprised for all the reasons I said he was good in my previous Leo post. I think it can safely be said that what tattered remnants of the former ZDTV are left will soon be completely destroyed in favor of boobies and video games. Ahhh well. It is unlikely that I will even be able to get G4 when they merge since it is 100% owned by Monopocast. He writes a nice going away message without any anger, and it could be just a tech guy using tech terms…but he quotes Tron’s Master Control Program’s favorite creepy phrase ‘End of Line’ in the title…..I wonder…..


Comcast Buys TechTV

Very sad news this. While I will admit that TechTV has been going steadily downhill for sometime- they’ve lost or fired almost all of their original personalities, almost all of their programming is recycled BBC, the shows they have are incredibly amateurish- the station still has a place in my heart. If only they realized just how much potential they have in shows like Call for Help, The Screen Savers and XPlay instead of trudging up trash like Wired for Sex, Invent This! and Body Hits. Unscrewed could be good if they actually hired some writers, but as it stands it’s just cheap laughs and cheap sex. Who knows what happens now, maybe by next this time next year I won’t even be able to get it (or whatever form it eventually takes) because Comcast won’t let DirecTV have it at any kind of reasonable rate. Sigh…

Update: Leo Laporte is no longer hosting the Screen Savers. I am both relieved and upset by this. On one hand, Leo is a jerk and a pervert who annoys me to no end. On the other, he was one of the few professional media people on the show who has experience on the air and decent knowledge of the subject matter. Honestly I think Kevin and Pat might work nicely together, but Leo was a host. Pat is too angry to be any good and Kevin just doesn’t have what it takes. We’ll see. I will miss his even-handed informative interviews though. I will not miss his incessant interrupting of his cohosts, or his weird, hardly veiled sexual innuendo and downright sexism towards his female hosts. Sigh…


i’m writing this from my pda on pitt’s wifi network. shiny!

USB Hijinks

I finally got a taste of the screwy new USB naming scheme this past weekend. It is truly one of the most evil things ever. I was chekcing out Mini Disc players and I noticed that they were “USB 2.0 Full Speed,” and thought “That is totally sweet.” But then I looked at the fine print on the back of the box, which stated: “USB 2.0 Full Speed is the new designation for the USB specification previously known as USB 1.1. It should not be confused with USB High Speed, which was previously known as USB 2.0.” So how many people are buying USB 2.0 Full Speed devices thinking they’re getting actual high speed peripherals. Crizazy.