Entries Tagged as 'Windows'


A little over a year ago Microsoft announced the end of Microsoft Money…

In the beginning I used a program written by a friend of mine to manage my check book (he actually marketed it), it was basic, and worked reasonably well.

Then I switch to Quicken… which never worked reasonably or well… but did the job (sort of like hammering a nail with a screwdriver rather than a hammer).  Obviously from what I’ve said I never liked it and never wanted to contemplate going back — financial management is about function, not form (or in Quicken’s case, pretty pictures, graphics, and selling as much of your information to anyone who will pay anything for it they can).

One of my friends used MoneyDance, and I’d pointed him that way when he decided gnucash just wasn’t what he wanted… so at the end of last year when I decided to make a decision to move to a financial management (tracking) software that was a little more current I paid for MoneyDance… and honestly, I’ve regretted it ever since.

The program basically works, and works on OS-X, Linux, and Windows… but one of the whole reasons to use financial management software is to be able to download transactions from your financial institutions and them just basically automatically match up with what you’ve entered and be done with balancing your records with your statement in a matter of a very few minutes…

And there in is the problem.

If you just let MoneyDance import and process those imported transactions you will have the biggest mess you’ve every seen — and the more accounts you have and the more transfers between accounts you do — well, let’s just say “exponential” growth only give you an idea of how bad it gets.

But, of course, like most “commercial” pieces of software, MoneyDance recently released a new version (I’m never in a hurry to upgrade to anything — even if I’m having minor problems I like to wait and make sure there’s no major regressions).  I did, however, install the update this weekend.

All I have to say is: are you F^(#ing kidding me… how is is possible to make an almost completely broken “feature” worse???

Now the transaction matching not only seems to do a worse job, but it’s on the side now rather than the bottom, so it obscures most of the (wrong) transaction it wants to match to so you have no idea what the F^(# it’s about to screw up…

My personal feeling is that you’re better of using crayons in a drawing book to track your financial records than wasting your time or money on MoneyDance… this has to be one of the absolute worst products I’ve ever seen, and based on the “features” that actually work you can stick with Microsoft Money, a 20 year old version of Quicken, or use a free program like gnucash… or a spreadsheet, because at the end of the day all you’re going to get with MoneyDance that works well enough to trust is a simple ledger.

Needless to say at the end of the year, I won’t be using MoneyDance, and if I can figure out how to get this years financial data out of it I will delete it (of course, this years data has very little value since to really “fix” the issues I’d have to go back and manually re-key everything).

Do before you reach for your credit card; consider saving your money and trying something else.

Originally posted 2011-08-08 02:00:00.

ISO Recorder

Alex Freinman offers a very useful and very free tool that allows you to write ISO images directly to disc without needing to go through several steps.  MSDN as well recommends it use (not exclusively).

Originally posted 2008-12-02 12:00:21.


A couple weeks ago my avast! anti-virus popped up a Window that wanted to reboot the machine, then indicated to me I had NO protection.

Apparently my one year (actually fourteen month) free subscription was up, and it wanted to enter a new registration code.  The software takes you to a screen where you can purchase a subscription, or you can navigate to the free avast! site and request a new registration code (that’s good for another fourteen months).

Now I think a great deal of avast!, it seems to find more mal-ware than most of it’s competitors, is clean and easy to use,  doesn’t try to take over your computer, and you can’t argue with the price.  But I think it’s a HORRIBLE thing for a anti-virus program to just stop working.  I don’t have any problem with it prohibiting updates of the program or signature file until you update; and I certainly don’t have a problem with it popping up a warning every time you boot (or even including  a warning right above the systray like it does when it detects a potential virus) — but to stop providing the service that you depend on it for without any warning before hand… that’s just wrong.

I certainly hope the avast! people reconsider this draconian behavior; I can’t continue to recommend avast! as a good anti-virus solution if it’s just going to leave you high and dry without a reasonable warning.

Originally posted 2009-02-25 01:00:39.

Virtual machines need regular defragging, researcher says

This comes from an article on ComputerWorld, all I can say is duh!

Virtual disks require the same fragmentation as the same operating system would running on physical machines; plus if you choose dynamically expanding containers for the disk on the host, you’ll likely need to power down the machine and periodically defragment the host as well.

You’d think that an article that starts with a title like that couldn’t possible get any more asinine; well, you’d be wrong:

Windows, as well as third-party software firms, offer defragmenters to reassemble fragmented files. Fragmentation is not as large of a problem on Unix systems, due to the way that the OS writes files to disk.

Apparently the author seems to think that just because Windows includes software to defragment the file system, it must be much more susceptible to fragmentation.  He’d be right if we were talking about Windows 98 or if people choose not to run NTFS… but he and the article he references are dead wrong.

NTFS has almost identical abilities as EXT2, EXT3, and EXT4 file systems to avoid fragmentation — the difference is that NTFS supports defragmentation of the file system (and Windows ships with a rudimentary defragmenter).  In fact, if *nix file system were so impervious to fragmentation, why would the ability to defragment be one of the major feature additions in EXT4 (though not fully implemented yet)?

There are many thing about *nix type operating systems that can clearly be pointed to as superior than Windows, the resistance to fragmentation simply isn’t one; WAKE UP and live in the current millennium, we don’t need to confuse FAT16/FAT32 with Windows.

Virtual machines need regular defragging, researcher says
By Joab Jackson on ComputerWorld

Originally posted 2010-10-12 02:00:44.


For those who like the “keep-it-simple” model, and don’t need advanced control of a FTP, SFTP, SCP connection, you might want to consider a long term Mac solution now available for Windows as well.

It’s a very simple, clean interface.  On the Mac it’s a pretty seamless experience, but not integrated into finder.  On Windows the interface isn’t completely Window-like, but quite easy to use and navigate (it leverages a bit much off the Mac version)

While I think this is a very good, and certainly good value (free) I tend to use FileZilla; but I probably have more specific needs for file transfers than many users.


Originally posted 2011-09-14 02:00:27.

Vista Sidebar Gadgets

There’s a ton of sidebar gadgets for Vista (just open up the gallery with “add gadgets” and select the “Get more gadgets online” link at the bottom right hand corner to have a look at the ones on Microsoft’s gadget site…

Needless to say, most of the gadgets are CRAP, in fact, most of the gadgets that ship with Vista are lame — and to illustrate that, I don’t use ANY of the gadgets that shipped with Vista.

The clock in Vista takes too much room and only shows the time.  A better solution is the 12HourTime gadget, it shows the time, day of the week and date in about 2/3 the space.

The CPU meter tha ships with Vista is also lame, the mCPU meter seems to do a good job (especially for multi-core CPUs).

And because we’re all too lazy to get up and look out the window… the Weather Channel gadget does a great job at telling you the current conditions (at a reporting station near you).

There are several other gadgets that you might enable from time to time when you’re doing something… the uTorrent monitor, MSNGasPrice, AstronomyCenter, etc all could be useful — and of course that also depends on your interests.

One of the nice things about gadgets is that you can remove them fairly easily, and unlike lots of software they don’t pollute your system.

Originally posted 2008-05-15 11:34:01.

Foxit PDF Editor

I’ve used PaperPort since it was a Xerox product; and I’ve depended on a fairly old version of it for manipulating PDF files for a very long time.  I’d looked at Foxit’s PDF Editor when it first came out, mainly because I’ve used their free PDF Reader.

Like most people I started with Adobe’s free reader, and I used their Acrobat suite for awhile (until I got tired of paying for upgrades).  Then I tried out PrimoPDF (a reader and a printer for free, the professional version worked OK, and it’s probably time to take a look at it again)… but I moved on to Foxit’s reader for both my Windows desktop and my Windows Mobile phone. I’ve used BullZip for printing to PDF for a long time.

But I digress…

So I decided to take a look at Foxit PDF Editor 2.2 — and my “need” is fairly simple:

  • Stack PDF documents together
  • Remove pages from a PDF document stack
  • Reorder pages in a PDF document stack
  • Fill in forms (including just adding text objects to a PDF)
  • Save the new PDF

Certainly nothing major; and mostly I can do it with OpenOffice or on my Mac without worrying about spending money on a piece of software I’ll only use occasionally.

FoxIt PDF Editor seemed to work fairly great — it was a little clunky adding text to a PDF (I was filling in a rebate form), and it wouldn’t let me to a multiple line text object (one line at a time — which is a little tedious for putting a note on the page).  I really thought I was going to like the program until I scanned in a receipt (and I scanned it as a whole page PDF rather than letting the scan software crop it) and tried to crop the region of the receipt.  FoxIt PDF Editor certainly will crop an image in a PDF; but it’s modal (I hate modality in software that’s targeted for productivity, that always means that the software vendor is dictating a flow to my work — and that might not be the way I want to do it).  I guess I could have lived with the fact that it put me into an edit mode to do the crop, but the region I needed to crop was larger than my screen, and FoxIt PDF Editor wouldn’t allow me to zoom out in edit mode nor would it allow me to auto-pan while I was using the crop tool to select… so while it would crop, it wouldn’t crop what I needed to.

Then I did the exact same thing in my ancient copy of PaperPort.  No problem, it worked like a champ and the resulting PDF file was 31KB from PaperPort verses the 536KB from FoxIt PDF Editor!

I was over it — FoxIt PDF Editor wasn’t worth $9.99 to me, much less $99.99…

If you sell software that has a “professional” price tag, you really need to provide professional quality software, not some POS that doesn’t work as well as shareware a hacker wrote in his basement and gives away for free!

Here’s a run down of alternatives for manipulating PDF files on Windows.  PaperPort is my current favorite; but you really need the Professional version to do everything you’d likely want with a PDF — and I certainly don’t feel it’s work the price.

I’ll take a look at Nitro and see what it has to offer; but for the time being I’ll just stick with my old PaperPort I run in a virtual machine along with OpenOffice to do what I need.

PaperPort 12 $99.99
PaperPort Professional 12 $199.99
Nitro PDF Professional 6 $99.99
FoxIt PDF Editor 2.2 $99.99
FoxIt Phantom PDF Suite 2.0 $129.99
FoxIt Reader 4.0 FREE
FoxIt Reader for Windows Mobile FREE
OpenOffice FREE

NOTE: With “FREE” products pay close attention when performing an install, many will default to installing third party software (browser toolbars, etc) or resetting your browser’s home page.  Just make sure you select the options you prefer, and none of the require the addition of any third party software to function.

Originally posted 2010-07-21 02:00:04.

Disc Image Software

Here are two useful Windows utilities that you’ll want to consider…

ImgBurn will allow you to convert discs (CDs and DVDs) to ISO images on your hard drive; it has additional capabilities and options.

DaemonTools will allow you to directly mount an ISO image as a “drive” (you can configure up to four simultaneous drives with it).  Another option (but less flexible) is the Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM applet.




Originally posted 2008-06-20 11:00:28.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Word for MS-DOS shipped in September 1893.

In January 1985 Microsoft shipped Word 1.0 for Macintosh and Word 2.0 for DOS.  In September they followed with Excel 1.0 for Macintosh.

In September 1886 Microsoft shipped Microsoft Works for Macintosh.  Followed in October by Word 3.0 for Macintosh (skipping version 2.0) and Word 2.0 for DOS.

In July 1987 Microsoft acquires Forethought and with that the basis for PowerPoint.  In September PowerPoint 1.0 for the Macintosh is shipped.

In July 1988 Microsoft ships PowerPoint 2.0 for the Macintosh.

In June 1989 Microsoft ships Office 1.0 for the Macintosh.

In May 1990 Microsoft ships PowerPoint 2.0 for Windows and in October Office 1.0 (which includes Excel 2.0, Word 2.1, and PowerPoint 2.0).

In January 1991 Microsoft ships Excel 3.0 for Windows.  In October Word 2.0 for Windows.

In August 1992 Microsoft ships Office 3.0 for Windows (includes PowerPoint 3.0, Word for Windows 2.0, and Excel 4.0).  In November Microsoft ships Access 1.o.

In September 1993 Microsoft ships the one millionth copy of Access, and Access 1.1 is the number one selling PC database.  In November Office 4.0 for Windows ships and by the end of the more than ten millions copies of Word are in use.

In May 1994 Microsoft ships Access 2.0 for Windows and Office 4.3 Professional for Windows (adding Access 2.0 to the Office 4 package).

In August 1995 Microsoft ships Office 95 supporting it’s new flag ship operating environment Windows 95.  By the end of the more than 30 million people now use Excel.

In April 1996 Exchange Server 4.0 is released as an upgrade to Microsoft Mail 3.5.

In January 1997 Microsoft Outlook 97 ships.  In March Exchange Server 5.0.  In November Office 97 is introduced and sells more than 60 million copies.

In January 1998 Office 98 for the Macintosh ships (Word 98, Excel 98, PowerPoint 98, and Outlook Express).  In March Outlook 98 is introduced on Windows, and over 1 million copies are sold by May.

In March 1999 Access 200 is released which enabled integration with Microsoft SQL Server.  In June Office 200 ships and attempts to bring web integration to the office platform.

In October 2000 Exchange Server 2000 is shipped and integrated e-mail, voice mail, and fax.

In March 2001 Office SharePoint Portal Server 2001 is shipped.  In May Office XP ships to support Microsoft new flag ship operating system.

In October 2003 Office 2003 ships along with Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.  OneNote and InfoPath are introduced as parts of the Office system.  SharePoint is offered as a free addition to Windows Server 2003.  The Office logo is updated from the old puzzle image to it’s current form. Exchange Server 2003 is shipped.

In April 2005 Microsoft acquires Groove and adds it to the Office suite.

In December 2006 Exchange Server 2007 is shipped.

In January 2007 Microsoft ships Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007.

In March 2008 Office Live debuts, by September 1 million users are signed up.  In October Office Web applications are announced.

In April 2010 Exchange 2010 is shipped.  In July Office 2010, Project 2010, and SharePoint 2010 are previewed.  In September Office Web Apps are previewed.  In October Microsoft introduces Office Start 2010,  In November Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 are available as a public beta.  Office Mobile 2010 is announced and available as a public beta.


Microsoft certainly deserves a great deal of credit for pushing the envelope for office productivity applications.  Gone are the days of archane key sequences in Word Perfect and hardware incompatibilities in Visi-Calc…

Many companies choose to use Microsoft products because that is what they know, and that is what Microsoft’s huge sales force promotes… is Office 2010 in your future or will you choose a different coarse?

Microsoft Office Timeline

Originally posted 2010-01-19 02:00:07.

Windows Live Essential 2011 – Live Mail

Or perhaps better titled: Why I continue to use a product I hate.

When Outlook Express debuted many years ago Microsoft showed the possibility of creating a email reader for Windows that was clean,simple, and powerful… and for all the problems of Outlook Express it worked.

When Microsoft shipped Windows Vista they abandoned Outlook Express in favor of Windows Mail; largely it appeared to be the same program with a few changes to make it more Vista-like.

But not long after Windows Mail hit the street, Microsoft decided to launch Windows Live Mail, and what appears to be a totally new program modeled after Outlook Express / Windows Mail was launched.  I say it was new because many of the bugs that were present in the BETA of Windows Live Mail were bugs that had been fixed in the Outlook Express code line years before (as an interesting note, several of the bugs I personally reported during the BETA of Windows Live Mail are still present in the newest version – 2011).

The previous version of Live Mail was tolerable; most of the things that were annoying about it had fairly simple ways to resolve them — and in time, maybe we’ll all figure out ways to work around the headaches in 2011; but I just don’t feel like putting so much effort into a POS software package time and time again…

And for those of you who say it’s “FREE” so you get what you get, I’d say, no — it’s not exactly free… Microsoft understands that software like this is necessary in order to have any control over user’s internet habits, so it isn’t free — you’re paying a “price” for it.

Plus, there are other alternatives… Thunderbird for one.

Why don’t I use Thunderbird… simple, there is one “feature” lacking in Thunderbird that prevents me from embracing it.  You cannot export account information and restore it.  Sure Mozbackup will let you backup a complete profile and transfer it to another machine — but I want access to individual email accounts.

Why?  Well, here’s the scenario that I always hit.

I travel, and I tend to take my netbook with me when I travel — and often I’m using my cell phone to access the internet… while it’s “fast” by some standards… if you were to re-sync fifty email accounts each with a dozen IMAP folders, you’d take all day.  Further, most of those email accounts are uninteresting on a day-to-day basis, particularly when I travel — I only want to access a couple of those accounts for sure, but I might want to load an account on demand (you never know).  What I do with Live Mail is I have all the IAF files for all my email accounts stored on the disk (I sync them from my server), and I setup the mail program by loading the three or four that I use routinely, the others I only load as I need them, and I remove them from Live Mail when done.

OK — so that doesn’t fit you… here’s another.

You’ve got several computers, and you’d like to setup your email quickly and painlessly on all of them… but you don’t need all your email accounts on everyone of them — plus you add and remove accounts over time.  Again, Live Mail and it’s import/export handles this nicely.  You simply export a set of IAF files, and then import the ones you want on each machine.

The question is why doesn’t Thunderbird have this ability?

Well, there was a plug in for an older version of Thunderbird that did kinda this; of course it didn’t work that well for the version it was written for, and it doesn’t work at all for newer versions.

One more that I consider an annoyance (but it’s probably slightly more than that) is that there is no easy way in Thunderbird to change the order of accounts in the account window — and they’re not order alphabetically (that would make too much sense), they’re ordered chronologically (based on when you created them).  So you can re-order them, if you delete the accounts and add them back in the order you’d like them to appear; but wait, you can’t add an account any way in Thunderbird by type in all the information again.

And if you’re thinking, OK so write a plug-in that manages account ordering and import/export.  Sure, that would be the “right” thing to do if Thunderbird really had an interface to get to that information easily — but no, it appears you’d have to parse a javaScript settings file… oh joy.

These should be core features of Thunderbird; and in my mind they are huge barriers to wide acceptance.

Originally posted 2010-11-12 02:00:32.