Archive for September, 2007

Kiss goodbye to Windows Ultimate Extras

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Long Zheng believes we can kiss goodbye to seeing any decent Windows Ultimate Extras:

Two months ago, after weeks of pressuring for answers, Microsoft’s Windows Ultimate group director Barry Goffe finally spoke out about the ‘missing’ Windows Vista Ultimate Extras. As implied throughout most marketing materials including the official website and even Window Vista’s own control panel, Ultimate Extras were suppose to be frequent and free premium products and services delivered to the customers who “wanted it all”. And the truth is, customers are getting near to nothing. Although realistically not everyone’s equally upset at the lack of extras, some argue it wasn’t part of their choice to buy Vista Ultimate, which is fine but that doesn’t help the people who did.

Vista changes bought about by Vista SP1 also seem to suggest that the Extras are pretty much a gonner:

On a related note, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 even tries to hide the Ultimate Extras shame by removing much of the information in the Control Panel applet. This is what you see in the current RTM version about Ultimate Extras .

Ultimate Extras

This is what you see in Service Pack 1.

Ultimate Extras SP1

Here's what I wrote over on Hardware 2.0:

This dramatic change to the wording is basically Microsoft’s way of trying to pull the curtain on the cornucopia of Windows Ultimate Extras that were initially promised to customers.  Forget the “cutting-edge programs,” the “innovative services” and “unique publications” because there aren’t any.  If you’re still holding out hope for any exciting Extras, you might as well give up now because it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any.  Face up to it, if you bought Windows Vista Ultimate because you hoped to get your hands on cool Extras, you were conned, and being conned sucks.

Oh, the humanity!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Spam email, bad luck or really bad fiction?  You decide!

Dear friend,
  I have been frustrated, deceived, maimed and molested too many 
times, I am just on the verge of giving up on life. O! my God why 
would all these calamities befall me at this my tender age?? Why me 
Lord?? Why me?? Too many bad people, nobody to trust anymore. I am fed 
up! If you think you can help me out of this predicament, please let 
mer know. My name is Anna Michael. I am from Port-Harcourt in Rivers 
State of Nigeria. I am 17 years old. I am bereaved having lost my 
mother at the tender age of 4. My late father however married another 
wife who turned out to be a dare-devil and the architect of my 
father's death, yes! she killed my father! Just because she could not 
bear him a child and I am supposed to be the heiress to my father's 
formidable business empire. My late daddy confided in me many months 
before he died that he had left some fixed deposits for me at the bank 
so I could further my education abroad in his absence. He also 
secretly gave me all the necessary papers indicating how much that is 
accrued to me and the bank where he has deposited the funds. I will 
not lie to you, I have been duped on this matter because my daddy's 
lawyer is now conniving with my step-mother to confiscate all my 
inheritance. Most importantly, my father left the sum of $2.8M in 
bonds and trunk box at the bank(will tell you the name of the bank 
later) and I have every document to prove this. But now, I need 
somebody who is very reliable and preferably a foreigner who will 
stand in for me and work with another lawyer to get my funds out of 
the bank. The reason is that I am just 17 and cannot represent myself 
legally on any issue. I need an adult, a person of high intergrity who 
can take up this matter as my sponsor and deal directly with the bank 
where my inheritance is and with the help of a lawyer, retrieve my 
$10.8M in the bank. After you have done this, you will help me get a 
visa to your country so I can relocate and start a new life there. 
Whoever that helps me now is my family and my all. I have nobody to 
run to. I am still staying in one of my father's mansions and I don't 
even know my fate here because they might either eject me anytime or 
even decide to kill me too. I am not safe here, no one to trust. I 
cannot even trace my mother's village, maybe I would have run to the 
place to hide at least to save my life. As it is now, if you can help 
me and get my Inheritance from the bank and then get me a visa to come 
to your country to reside, I will not only be happy but would be a 
daughter and a child to you for the rest of my life. Moreover, in the 
end I wouldn't mind giving you half of my entire inheritance. Or maybe 
you take 40% and use 10% to settle the lawyer who will work with you 
to achieve this. Then you will help me bank the remaining on trust for 
my education and my future. Please let me know if you can be of 
immense help to me and I will provide you every detail. We will open 
communication, though I don't have any phone right now. My God will 
reward you as you find it in your heart to help me in this. Amen! 
Sincerely yours, anna

It must be a terrible thing to have all that money locked up and not be able to spend any of it to replace that keyboard with a dodgy carriage return.

Fix Windows time sync

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Excellent tip by my ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott:

OK, first of all, that is a godawful error message. The peer’s stratum is less than the host’s stratum? Wha’? Whoever wrote that should have their keyboard taken away for a month. But this little experience reminded me of something that I’ve seen for so many years I’ve lost count:

The server at time.windows.com does not work reliably.

People have been complaining about this for ages but I can’t remember a time when this server was reliable.

The trick is to update the time server that Windows uses.  There are plenty of time servers to choose from.  Here are two lists:

Using lies to debunk lies

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I love it when I come across a ranting article that tries to debunk some other article.  I especially like it when the article that tries to debunk the first itself is seriously flawed and contains some blatant inaccuracies.

Here's a good example.  Daniel Eran Dilger over on RoughlyDrafted attempts to debunk an article written by Bill Thompson of the BBC about how it's time for Apple to come under the same EU scrutiny that Microsoft has.  The RoughlyDrafted article claims that Thompson lied several times during the course of his article.  Maybe, but there's a pretty blatant inaccuracy (I'm going to be generous and not call it a lie) contained within the RoughlyDrafted article:

His first idea was that iPod users are locked into iTunes. Yes, Apple sets up a system that's easy to use out of the box, but users aren't forced to use it. The iPod can be used with a variety of other applications, or even wiped clean and used with completely alternative firmware like RockBox. Again, Thompson just lied.

Before you call someone a liar it's important to get your facts right.  After all, it seems pretty clear that Apple has been working hard to lock Linux users out of being able to use the latest iPods by adding a new cryptographic signature facility to the file system which broke the hacks that have worked for iPod owning Linux users for years.  Sure, the lock-out was defeated in hours, but that's not the point.  The point is that Apple once again tried to tie the iPod to iTunes.  This move sounds like exactly the kind of thing that the European Commission needs to take a look at. 

I'm pretty sure that the Apple fanboys will come out with some brilliant reason why Apple added this cryptographic signature tot he new iPods ...

File copy woes on Vista

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Question:  I'm running Vista and I'm having problems copying files from my hard drive to an external hard drive used for backup.  I have a lot of files to copy and whenever the copy comes across an MP3 file I get the following error:

Screenshot - File copying error message

We've come across these random "There is not enough memory to complete this operation" error message on both XP and Vista systems and the problem can be tricky to trace down.  Fortunately, there is a fix, but you have to be ready to go into your system registry and make a small change (I recommend doing a backup first).  Here are the instructions for Windows Vista (for XP the main change will be at the beginning where you click on Start > Run and type regedit into the box there):

  1. Click Start, type regedit in the Search box, and then click on the Regedit icon that appears at the top of the Start menu.
  2. Click OK to the UAC prompt.
  3. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Session Manager > SubSystems
  4. In the right-hand pane, double-click the Windows value. This will open the Edit String dialog box containing a long text string.  Find the section that starts SharedSection and change the second value from its default of 3072 to a higher number (I start at 4096 and will go up as far as 8192 if problems persist).  Change nothing else!!!!
  5. Try to replicate the issue.