Posted by: bsieker | October 27, 2009

Felicia Day’s Behind the Scenes: When Galaxies Collide

Felicia Day sets the record straight on the collision of galaxies.  Afraid that galaxies will collide in a giant explosion that looks to have been ripped directly from the starting credits of McGyver?  Never fear!

But watch out for the crushed glass!


From “Inside Burlington”, hot off the presses:

“Currently, the City and Community Development Authority is working together to develop the appropriate development package for the new hotel development, which would be the first phase of the downtown redevelopment project.”

I’m no Hemingway, but that’s not a very well constructed sentence.

P.S. Burlington, it is idiotic to hold Halloween trick-or-treating on October 25th, 6 days before the holiday.

Why is song rating disabled?

Why is song rating disabled?

I just installed iTunes 9 on my week old installation of Snow Leopard.  While I find it humorous that some in the Mac community are up in arms over the smallest of interface changes in iTunes, I’m truly ambivalent about them.  When I heard about the Genius Mixes function, I thought I’d take a look.  First, however, I needed to do an update to the Genius information on my computer.  Luckily, it didn’t take the hours it did when re-setting my iTunes library after a clean OS install.

The Genius mixes interface shows 12 iTunes generated mixes culled from various genres in your media library.  For me, it made 10 Rock oriented mixes, a Pop mix, and a R&B Rap mix.  Classical, Latin, Country etc. were not represented, even though I have more than 10GB of Latin music in my iTunes library.  While a song is playing from the chosen Genius mix, the view of the Genius mixes changes to show the artwork of your currently playing track as shown here:

Genius mixes changes to show art for current track.

Genius mixes changes to show art for current track.

All of this is well and good.  However, having just re-imported my media from scratch I now have many many Gigabytes of music that needs to be rated.  Unfortunately, to this point I have not been able to conjure up a way to rate songs while using the Genius Mixes feature.  It appears to be disable by Apple.  There is no way to see detailed track info for what is currently playing.  Going to View-Go To Current Song does nothing.  Genius Mixes does not support List mode.  Even entering the options of the iTunes dock icon, I found that the rating functionality had been disabled.  What gives Apple?

Don’t get me wrong.  For listening pleasure, the Genius Mixes feature works well.  For hardcore users though, not being able to access the tags and other track information of music while listening is a killer.  And not in a good way.

If anyone knows a way around this, let me know.

Posted by: bsieker | July 2, 2009

Great Job Microsoft

Microsoft is well know for being unable to find decent advertising agencies with which to create their marketing campaigns.  But really, this commercial is gleefully bad!  BTW, it’s a bad sign when the feature of the browser you wish to highlight is for viewing pornography privately.

Playing devil’s advocate…from an article from The Seattle Times (italics added):

Emma Alvarado bought a laptop from Lenovo on June 20, 2008, with Windows Vista Business preinstalled. She paid Lenovo “an additional $59.25 in order to ‘downgrade’ her operating system to Windows XP Professional.” Alvarado is seeking class-action status. Here’s a copy of her complaint, filed Wednesday: 13-page PDF.

Microsoft had not filed a response to the complaint and a spokesperson could not immediately be reached. [Update, 9:04 a.m.: Spokesman David Bowermaster said via e-mail: “We have not yet been served with this lawsuit, so it would be premature to comment.”]

In the complaint, Alvarado’s attorneys allege:

“As the sole licensor of Windows Vista, Microsoft enjoys vast power over OEMs which it has used and continues to use to stifle competition. … Microsoft has used its power to coerce OEMs, internet access providers (“IAPs”) and others into agreeing to restrictive and anti-competitive licensing terms for its Windows XP operating system in order to stifle competition in the market. …
“Consumers have encountered numerous problems using the Vista operating system, and these problems have been widely publicized in various media outlets. As a result, many consumers would prefer to purchase a new computer pre-installed with the Windows XP operating system or at least not pre-installed with the Vista operating system. However, Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to ‘downgrade’ to the Windows XP operating system. …

“To date, nearly one in three consumers purchasing a new computer has paid to downgrade the operating system from Vista to Windows XP.”

Call me crazy, but I believe Windows XP is a product that Microsoft sells.  They don’t have to sell it; customers don’t have to buy it.  It is not Microsoft’s duty to provide Windows XP “goodness” to all those in need.  They could stop selling licenses of Windows XP tomorrow.  You might not like it; you may even throw a fit and switch to OS X or Linux.  That would be your right.  Microsoft bends over backwards to support legacy “crap” in every version of Windows.  They bent over backwards to extend the supported life of Windows XP…and now they are being sued for it.

As some have mentioned, it can be unclear who is charging the $59.25.  Is it Microsoft or Levono?  Does it matter?  There are separate support costs incurred by choosing Windows XP over Vista.  You are paying those costs in this fee.  Is the downgrade fee too high?  Probably.  However, Emma Alvarado didn’t have to buy that Levono laptop.  There are other vendors that offer Window XP hardware without a surcharge.  I get the strong feeling that the only reason she bought that laptop was to bring this lawsuit against Microsoft.

Microsoft’s current version of Windows is Windows Vista.  Sorry, but that’s the fact.  Try going into your local Apple Store and demanding that they pre-install OS X 10.1.  Or even sell you a install disc.  Why won’t they do it?  Are they being anti-consumer?  Perhaps they don’t want to support it any longer?  Hmm….

Posted by: bsieker | February 13, 2009

Woot! Apple adds Windows 95 era functionality to OS X!

According to the Mac Rumors website, Apple is planning to put back the “Put Back”.  “Put Back” is apparently Apple’s terminology for allowing users to restore a file in the trash to the location from whence it came.  And they said that Snow Leopard wasn’t going to have new, exciting features!

From the article:

Put Back – Under Mac OS 9, users had the option to restore any “Trash”ed files (before the Trash is emptied) back to their original locations with a simple “Put Away” command. For some reason, this capability was lost in the transition to Mac OS X. In the latest Snow Leopard builds, it’s back (as “Put Back”). So any accidental disposals can now easily be restored with a simple click. Again, this only works for files that have been moved to the Trash but not yet “emptied” (deleted).

Posted by: bsieker | January 10, 2009

OK, maybe the weather here really isn’t too bad….

I’ve been spending all day grumbling over the 4-8 inch snow storm that dumped 14 inches of snow here yesterday.  But after watching this video…it’s quite pretty. Relaxing even. Yes, I had to shovel, but somehow I don’t think a shovel would do them any good.


Posted by: bsieker | December 9, 2008

If “The Matrix” ran on Windows XP

Well…this is another video that I’ve heard a lot of people talking about lately.  It’s a common theme to joke about, “What if (your car, your wife, The Matrix etc.) ran Windows?”  This one is well done however.  Anyone who used Office 2000 or XP will appreciate the Clippy jokes.

Posted by: bsieker | November 26, 2008

Great YouTube video making the rounds

I can barely keep a hat on my head….  Perhaps the video was staged, perhaps not, but the man still did it and that’s what counts.  Amazing.

Posted by: bsieker | November 17, 2008

Who’s to blame for the “Vista Capable” fiasco?

These are the latest transcribed Microsoft internal emails that hitting the web.  Somehow, it’s not surprising to me how poor the communication is at the highest levels of Microsoft.  How could Will Poole make a decision as important to Microsoft as the “Vista Capable” specifications without the knowledge and OK of Jim Allchin and Steve Ballmer?  They appear quite dysfunctional.  And does Ballmer step up to the plate to display leadership to mitigate the furor?  Not within these emails anyway.  “The Buck” does not stop here!  Move along.

In the emails Will is reported to be Will Poole, an executive with Microsoft.  The Paul mentioned is Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel.  The PDF of the actual court documents are here.  exhibit-f

Hi Jim,

You and I haven’t met yet but I replaced John Romano running the consumer PC business working for Todd, I look forward to meeting you in the not too distant future.

I wanted to check in with you based on a rumor I heard today that Microsoft is about to relax the WDDM requirement for Vista Capable PCs. We are hoping this is indeed just a rumor but would like your confirmation.

As you may recall from the August 2005 meeting in San Diego, when this topic was discussed John Romano asked Microsoft for a commitment to ensure that you would not bow to pressure to relax the the requirement since it would require HP to make a major commitment to support it. I am told you did in fact make that commitment and as a result we embarked on a plan to rapidly obsolete the Intel 910 and 915 based platforms, bringing up and qualifying 2 new motherboards in support of being Vista Capable. As you can imagine this was no small feat and our team has worked hard to support your plans so we’re hoping the rumor we’re hearing is just that, but I’d be grateful if you would confirm where things stand.

Many thanks,

Richard M. Walker

SVP Consumer PC Business Unit

From: Walker, Richard
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 8:51 AM
To: Kevin Johnson; Jim Allchin
Subject: Microsoft Vista Compatible Announcement

Jim, Kevin,

I see from the announcement on the OEM website that the rumor I referred to in my earlier message is indeed true. You should understand that for a partner who has made a significant investment in meeting the Vista Capable requirement we find it both disappointing and troubling that you would make such a decision without first consulting HP, your biggest global partner. The statement made that it was partner feedback that drove you to this decision may be true but you certainly did not get it from my organization, nor any other part of the HP PC organization as far as I can tell. The decision you have made and communicated has taken away an investment we made consciously for competitive advantage knowing that some players would choose not to make the same level of investment as we did in supporting our program requirements. Now we have a situation where PC manufacturers (and processor/chipset suppliers) can claim Vista Capable in a “good” mode just because it will run. What kind of consumer assurance is that? Hardly one that puts any credence behind your desire to create the “best possible customer experience for the Windows Vista Upgrade”.

I can’t be more clear than to say you not only let us down by reneging on your commitment to stand behind the WDDM requirement, you have demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to HP as a strategic partner and cost us a lot of money in the process. Your credibility is severely damaged in my organization, I have engineers who’ve worked their tails off to qualify new platforms to support WDDM who are wondering why they put so much effort in when Microsoft changed the rules at the last minute and didn’t even consult us before making the announcement.

If I were to be completely cynical about the course of events leading up to this, I’d suggest that my friends in Santa Clara slept well last night knowing that they don’t have to worry that part of their line up, non compliant as it would have been based on WDDM requirement for 1/4, will be exposed to public scrutiny. I’m three months into this new role and I hope this incident is not a foretaste of the relationship I will have Microsoft going forward, but I can tell you it’s left a very bad taste with me and my team.


From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 9:01 AM
To: Steve Ballmer
Cc: Kevin Johnson
Subject: FW: Microsoft Vista Compatible Announcement

I am beyond being upset here.

This was totally mismanaged by Intel and Microsoft.

What a mess.

Now we have an upset partner, Microsoft destroyed credibility, as well as my own credibility shot.

I was away and I get back to see this mess.

I was told all this started with a call between you and Paul. I will have to get to the bottom of this and understand how we could be so insensitive in handing the situation.


From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 3:32 PM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Kevin Johnson
Subject: RE: Microsoft Vista Compatible Announcement

I had nothing to do with this. Will handled everything. I received a message that paul was going to call. Will said he would handle it. Paul called. I had not even had a chance to report his issues when Will told me he had solved them. (It did not sound like he had) I am not even in the detail of the issues

You better get Will under control  thanks.

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