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Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

Hmm.  Once Upon A time, on this Windows 7 thing there existed absolutely no Windows Movie Maker.  I use WMM to make my DITLs, so it was kind of frustrating to realize that I was required to do more work just so I could do the work to get it to work.

That’s like me being the dude, playing the dude, disguised as another dude.

Being the savvy and worldly beta user, I decided to google about windows 7 and windows movie maker first to make sure someone else hadn’t accidentally deleted all their videos and set accidental fire to accidental baby kittens from installing the beta version and trying to create new content.

What I quickly found out was the version of Windows Movie Maker that Microsoft makes available is A) part of Windows Live (a collection of many online tools) and B) devoid of many advanced features that I depend on.  For example, I’m not a bit funny by myself, but Windows Movie Maker has that setting where you can make it “decently funny if a bit quirky” and I have mine set to 70%.

However, I also found out soon enough that MS packaged up the Vista version of WMM (2.6) for those of us who still needed the advanced features.  This made me happier than finding out Michael Phelps is more human than I expected and the media is more inhuman than I expected.

While I’m playing with installing WMM 2.6, I thought I’d give Live Writer a try – it’s a blog publishing tool that comes with the Windows Live collection and works with all sorts of blog platforms, including WordPress (which is what I use for this blog).

In fact, I’m actually composing this blog post with Live Writer.

About the only things I care about regarding blog composition that save me time when writing a blog post is A) indenting text (which it seems Live Writer does NOT support) and B) pasting in pictures.  I pasted in the picture above, so we’ll see how it looks.

It kinda looks freaky with the whole picture within a picture thing.  How did it do that?  And how far does it go?  I’m scared.  I’m writing in my blog about writing in my blog, so I guess it’s like two mirrors facing each other.

I’ve used Microsoft’s Word 2007 to publish blog entries before, mainly because it had a geek factor to it and it also supported all my special little styling whims.  I could also compose while offline (like when taking bus to work) and publish later, and I always had a problem with that on WordPress.  This seems like a suitable replacement. Oh, and if your luggage ever gets lost or stolen, Samsonite is also a suitable replacement.

Time Passes…

So now I’ve attempted to publish this entry as a draft on my blog, but I keep getting a 500 Internal Server Error.

I’m too tired busy to troubleshoot if this is a WordPress 2.7.1 problem, a Windows Seven problem, a Live Writer bug or if it could be possibly explained by too much gluten in my diet.  (Wayne, don’t be so silly. Ack!)

This past weekend, I bit the bullet and installed Windows 7 BETA on my work laptop, replacing Vista.  This is pretty big, given that at work we’re still standardized on Windows XP.  My move to Vista last year was an important leap of faith as it was, so going to Windows 7 (aka W7) marks an even more risky foray into the world of Microsoft Operating Systems.  And going with beta makes it risk combined with cavalier abandon.

I have survived.

And it’s been pretty fun.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed so far that are worth mentioning.  I should point out that some of these may have been there in Vista and I just never noticed them.

To save on front page space, the rest is in the extended entry.

(more…)

Note: This blog post is also available via audio.  It is read by the author on Utterli.

I think Microsoft’s Developers and I define “catastrophic failure” a wee bit differently.

First off, in my mind, if I saw a message that said “catastrophic failure,” I’d be thinking – if it’s so catastrophic, why is there even a message?  Doesn’t the meaning of “catastrophic” carry a little bit of a connotation of the end of the world?  

I mean, shouldn’t something that’s catastrophic be, um… obvious?

You might be wondering where I got this message.  I received it from a pop-up message in my Vista system tray, indicating that the last scheduled backup didn’t run.

 

Catastrophic failure as defined by Microsoft

Catastrophic failure as defined by Microsoft

Since my mind is already in “catastrophe mode,” I’ve decided to say some of the more important things in a blood red font.

Most people who frequent my blog know that I’m a big Vista fan.  But that doesn’t mean angels decended from heaven and said “blessed thou art” on this thing, making it flawless and perfect.  Oh no.  That event has been predicted and reserved by the media for 5 days from now, and you can only have one of those events every 2000 years.  It’s not likely that my laptop received that kind of sanctification.

The above is what I get when I click “more details.”  I don’t think I’d be way off the mark if I suggested that – this does NOT give me useful details.  Maybe I missed the link that said “useful details.”

So what do I do?  I PERSEVERE.  I ignore the error message and attempt to adjust the settings.  I basically adjust NO settings, however, and go through the wizard to back up.

This time (ye gods) it DOES give me a decent error message.

Now all I gotta do is check the disk for errors.

Except that, like all good operating systems, Vista doesn’t let you check the main system disk for errors while it’s actually running and stuff.  All you Unix admins know you have to be in singe-user mode to fsck the root (/) partition.  I don’t know what Macs do in that situation, but I’m sure it’s similar, just with a lot of fantastic eye candy.

So even though you click the “check the disk for errors” link, you don’t really get to do that.  You get to choose to check the disk — say it with me together — when the system next reboots.

Fantastic.  

I might as well do the reboot / check / redo the backups thing while I eat my lunch.

Wait.  Let me resay that in a better font.

Hey!  I swear I didn’t put that in there!  It’s the font!  

Our home computer, you know, the one for the family in the kitchen-nook-cranny area, has served us well for a long time.  However, for the last, oh…. six months or so, it’s been annoying to most of the family.

It doesn’t annoy me directly, because I have a kick-butt laptop that is almost always awesome-like in its sheer coolness.  On the contrary – it annoys me indirectly.  I say “indirectly” because it annoys everyone else in the family, who then come to me because I’m Mr IT Director and “fixing computers at work is what Daddy does.”  

Yeah right.  I “fix computers” kind of like how a a skilled surgeon “kisses booboos.”  

Still, just as the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the performance and effectiveness of our family computer at home leaves a lot to be desired.  Sure, I do some decent basics, like each family member has a “Limited” XP account so as to cut down on spyware and viruses.  I have a personal firewall installed.  I have antivirus installed and updated.  I use products like CCleaner, HijackThis, Adaware, Spybot Search & Destroy, Microsoft Defender and a few others to keep the system running smoothly.  I do the immunizations, checks and prayer vigils that I believe I’m supposed to do.

But over time, the computer gets bloated.  Slower.  Buggy.  I frequently get inconvenient notices, usually in the form of an across-the-house yell, like “DAD! THE COMPUTER’S BROKEN!”  This commonly comes when Jaden is trying to watch iCarly or something off of Nick’s site.  I sometimes work on the issue, but I just get fed up, reboot and the problem goes away.

What do I do at work?  I work on computers, networks, servers, SANs, firewalls, gateways, web sites, databases, printers, laptops, desktops, blackberries, switches, phone systems, call centers, badge readers, camera systems, IP phones, wireless access points, IP KVM, monitoring sytems, terminal servers, ssl certificates, VPN concentrators, UPS systems, generators, server cabinets and that’s just my main job.  I intimately know TCP/IP, UDP, UNIX, Win, MOSS, DHCP, ATM, DHCP, LAN, MPLS, FTP, DNS, NIS, AD, RPC, SMTP, SNMP, DNIS, NTP, MIB, SSH, VOIP, H.323, RDP, X11, IOS, SIP, HTTP, VDN, ESX, OSI, VPN, SMS, HBA, SPS, WAN, PBX, UTM, PRI, DSL, Frame, and 8xx.

But do I want to do anything remotely related to those things at home?

In a word – NO.

So imagine my joy at getting an upgraded computer.  Well, let me clarify. Our previous computer was about 8 years old.  Our “upgraded computer” is only 3.5 years old.  In computer years, that’s like a 75yr old marathon runner getting a new 30yr old body.  It ain’t perfect, but boy is it nice!  A brand new computer, on the other hand, would be akin to a 21yr old body pumped up on amphetamines.

Kind of like this guy, but if he was 21yr old, had a good body and did drugs:

Now my family has a screamingly fast computer (compared to the old one) and everyone’s happy.  In technical terms, it’s has a 2Ghz CPU, 2GB ram, 2×1.5TB SATA drives running in a RAID1 plus another 500GB extra non-RAID drive, and it’s running XP Media Center.  It has a CD/DVD burner with Lightscribe, and it has one of those built-in multi-media card reader thingies, where I can directly put in SD ram, MicroSD, sony memory sticks, CF cards, etc.

Life is good.

Let’s hope it lasts.

As I use Microsoft Vista more, I’m impressed by some common sense things that finally made it into the Operating System.  And don’t you try to tell me how to spell hienie.

One of the things that bugged me for a long time was that I had to use third party tools, like sysinternals, to view details on what was taking up disk time, network time, memory, etc.  Task Manager was “ok” but lacked the real troubleshooting information I needed when I wanted to optimize my system.  (side note: Microsoft bought sysinternals a while back).

A Unix machine has no such limitation.  On Unix, I could use top, vmstat, lofs, tcpdump and many other command line tools to hone in and find EXACTLY what was going on with the system.  In short, I was Mr. BadAss Admin.

Now, Microsoft gives us the Resource Monitor:

vista resource monitor

Like the Task Manager, it gives us eye candy for CPU usage, Network utilization and memory consumption.  It adds a cool graph for Disk Usage.

More importantly, however, it gives you expandable sections for Disk and Network so you can see exactly what process is using the hard drive or network card, and the details of that access.  What file is being throttled at a million miles per second?  Which app is trying to talk out my network and taking up a ton of resources?  Which ship can do the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?

The collapsed summaries themselves give useful information


I can see current usage and recent peak events

Even cooler that that- you can sort the columns and try to navigate your way to finding the anomalies.

For example, you might find that the search indexer is making your system crawl.  Outlook could be messing with a fragmented OST file.  The password crack program might be beating up your disk trying to brute force Obama’s website /etc/passwd file that was emailed to you by the Hillary campaign.

You can also narrow down network activity – who is woopra talking to?  What servers does trillian connect to?

About the only complaints I have about the tools it that you can’t right-click a process and *do* stuff with it like you can in Task Manager.  I want to be able to right-click and change process priority.  Or kill the process.  Or view the threads.  Or start a network sniffer.  Or tell it to get me a Pepsi.

Another refreshing thing (haha, get it?  it refreshes!  so it’s refreshing! HAHAHAHAHAA) is that Vista is actually *honest* about it’s problems.  It has a thing called the “Reliability Monitor” and it tracks all sorts of badness about your machine.

vista reliability monitor

YES!  It is actually advertising and tracking when failures happen!  On a timeline!  Woo-hoo!

How cool is that? I can see the dates when app failures happen, or actual windows failures, when I install or uninstalled software, and actually SEE WHEN THINGS STARTED GOING WRONG. 

Not only that, I can click on one of the red X’s and it will tell me which app crashed and the details

I applaud the Microsoft developers for putting this stuff in and making power users like me happier about the crashes that do happen.

I also can’t wait to smash the first Mac whore who says “the Mac had that in ’84 and we didn’t even NEED a service pack and the smell of my own gas is pleasant to me.”


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