Friday, February 10, 2012

That Missing Close button

Why the %#@# do they insist on hiding the close button on browser tabs?

(IE 9 in image above)
I know it appears when you point at it, but the number of times I've accidentally closed a tab when I was just trying to select it, because the close icon wasn't there when I clicked!
Chrome is a little better. At least there's a pale grey x to remind you.
Firefox is similar.
I'd just like the icon to be a little bit more blatant at all times. But IE's approach of hiding it completely just sucks!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Generic Answers - Do support techs actually listen to customers?

We hear lots of amusing stories about clueless users from the Support Technician's POV. But just as often the guy hasn't listened or read the user's question in the first place.

Latest example: We got a new fridge, and the manual said the three main shelves could be moved up or down. But we found the top one was a different configuration to the others (it had a suspended drawer) and didn't want to shift. I didn't want to force it for fear of damage (these things are more fragile than the fridges of yesteryear).

So I contacted Westinghouse support, and carefully describe the problem, and what the manual said, and asked if there was a trick to freeing the shelf.

The response was fairly quick, I'll give them that, but it included just an almost unreadable poor quality scan of what appeared to be a faxed copy of the manual for the fridge! The original PDF of which is available on their website!!!

I'm not sure what's the worst part of this. That they obviously didn't read the query (I referenced the very manual they sent me), or that they don't even seem to know where to get the manuals from their own site. The scan was larger as an attachment than the original PDF, and made my eyes hurt to try and read (besides being rotated 90 degrees in the pdf). Clueless!

On a related note, I got in touch with Blizzard support for an issue with a game. A tech named PatrickA seemed to have some idea what he was doing, and started helping me with the problem. The just as he promised a resolution, he stopped communicating and I never heard from him again. No reply to follow up emails over the next 3 weeks. Dunno if he's gone on leave or died or what.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iTunes Album Art

I really don't understand how iTunes matches (or not) album art.

Here's the iTunes store:

Besides being awestruck at the price ($16.95!!!?? I can buy the CD for $11, why would I pay $17?), I note that it shows the correct cover for the album.

Yet when I ask iTunes to download the artwork for the CD I've ripped, it shows the following:

For some reason it imports the cover for The Complete Led Zeppelin. I've tried renaming the album to all sorts of variations (in the example I've exactly matched the album you can buy on iTunes), yet it won't pick the right cover.

This happens with many different albums. And it's the only way to put an album cover in the iPod database. You can't put your own artwork in that database. The alternative is to tag each track with an album image (which is what happens if you set the album artwork via the Get Info dialog box).

People have been complaining about this for years. I don't suppose I really expect Apple to listen to its users though.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ghost is Back!

My machine has started turning itself on again. About 4am we discovered it on again for no apparent reason.

Checked the system logs, and sure enough:

The system has resumed from sleep.

Sleep Time: ‎2010‎-‎08‎-‎14T14:08:57.006484500Z
Wake Time: ‎2010‎-‎08‎-‎14T18:19:25.974342700Z

Wake Source: Timer - Windows will execute '\Microsoft\Windows\Media

Center\mcupdate_scheduled' scheduled task that requested waking the computer.

Bloody Media Center is trying to update itself again, to no useful purpose.

Checked power settings again, and the "Wake on timers" setting that I'd previously disabled was enabled again!

How many people don't realise their Windows 7 machines turn themselves on in the middle of the night?

Anyway, I found the Scheduled Task that kicks this off. If I start the Task Scheduler and open Task Scheduler (Local)/Task Scheduler Library/Microsoft/Windows/Media Center and look for mcupdate_scheduled, I can see the trigger "At 4:00 AM every day".

I was going to just disable the task, but I saw settings for "Wake the computer to start this task", and "Run task as soon as possible after a scheduled start is missed", and turned both of those off instead. I'll see if that provides a long term solution.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

iPod registration Woes

My wife just bought her first iPod. A refurbished 16GB latest gen Nano in bright orange.

First thing to do, of course, is download iTunes. I know Apple want you to download the latest version, but would it hurt to put a copy of the installation files on the iPod. We only got broadband a year ago, and the new people down the street can't get anything but dialup (as the exchange is "full"!! We're just outside the suburbs.) 95MB can be a lot on a slow connection.

First thing iTunes wants to do is register. This is her first Apple product, so fill out the registration screen. It says use email address for user ID, and fill in lots of other fields, including secret question.

"That username is already in use. If it's you, then login." (paraphrased).

OK, we realise she registered with Apple when ordering the iPod. Start the whole process over again, and login this time.

"Sorry, there's not enough detail with that account, you'll need to fill in some more data" (paraphrased again), and here's a link to open in your browser.

Now we're at a login screen on the Apple website, wishing we didn't have such a long email address to use as a login name. Log in again, and we find that it now wants a secret question and answer (didn't we do that already?)

Having done that, it's back to iTunes, to try and log in again. At last it accepts it and we're in.

Now, if we want to get album artwork or podcasts, you need to have an iTunes store account. (We'll probably never buy a song from iTunes. Almost all the music we get is on CD.) So here's another registration screen, which (as far as I know) needs a credit card even if you never plan to spend a cent.

OK, plug in the iPod at last (we really wanted to have this charging for the last hour).

And what do we get? Another #%$$% registration screen!!! We just want to load on a few songs and try playing them!

There were other problems as wll along the way, as she's not really tech savvy, so it was some hours getting going, compared to your normal drag and drop of folders and files on the average non-Apple MP3 player. But that's part of the price with going "iPod". However, this registration business could do with some streamlining.

Office 2010 beta (pardon my French)

I joined the Windows 7 Beta programme last year and tried the Win7 RC. Microsoft sent me regular emails about the product. Mostly forgettable emails, but they must have worked as I eventually bought an upgrade to Win7. (Not a bug surprise, as I've had every version of Microsoft's OS since PC DOS 1.1 except ME and Vista.)

This year I tried the Office 2010 Beta. Not too bad, but I wasn't sure how much it differed from Office 2007 as I'm still using Office 2003. I installed it on a virtual machine rather than under my main OS as I'd heard how Outlook 2010 doesn't play well with previous versions.

I quite like One Note. It could replace some freeware tools I use, and handles internal links better. Now I'm finally getting used to the ribbon, it might be worth my upgrading from Office 2003. But I expect I'll still be using Word 2003 compatible files for a few years until everyone can read .docx files.

And as expected, Microsoft sends me regular emails about the Beta... but all in French!

I haven't a clue what they're saying, nor how to change what language they use.

"Consultez et partagez vos ressources pédagogiques où que vous soyez, ou presque‏" says the latest. I could google translate it. But I'm not expecting anything earth shattering.

If they're doing this to everyone, I don't expect they'll get a lot of useful feedback.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Ghost In My Machine

My wife told me that my computer has been turning itself on each day after I go to work. WtF? No scheduled tasks. No Bios timer set.

I've just been putting it to sleep rather than turning it off. Something I never did with XP, but Win7 seems pretty stable without restarting regularly.

Time to Google. Everyone keeps suggesting a scheduled task (why wouldn't people know they set up a scheduled task), or BIOS timer (again, why...). After a bunch of different searches, I finally see a suggestion that Media Centre may start up a PC for TV guide updates, and you could check this in the Event Viewer.

Couldn't see why it would do that, as during setup, Media Centre told me it couldn't get a TV Guide in my area. But the event viewer confirmed it. Somewhere about 8:30 or 9am each day, the System log showed the computer starting up, and the Media Centre log showed it looking for updates.

OK. Open Media Centre, go to settings, and turn off everything which might download updates.

Next evening, check the logs to see my PC didn't start itself up that morning. Hooray! Problem solved...

Woke up next morning at 4am to see a glow coming from the study. My computer was on!!!! Damn!

So today I looked at the logs again.

The system has resumed from sleep.

Sleep Time: ‎2010‎-‎03‎-‎26T12:27:04.657202500Z
Wake Time: ‎2010‎-‎03‎-‎26T17:04:08.967941900Z

Wake Source: Timer - Windows will execute '\Microsoft\Windows\Media Center\mcupdate_scheduled' scheduled task that requested waking the computer.

Media #%%@# Centre!

The Media Centre logs tell the story. Looks like when I started it up to change settings, it appears to have taken the opportunity to load updates, and decided it didn't actually need to start up it's normal time yesterday, thus making me think I'd turned it off. No such luck.

Check settings again:

Automatic download options unchecked.

Just in case, scheduled optimisation disabled.

So why is it still starting up my machine?

It has to be possible to stop automatic wakeup from sleep, so I check the Power Settings:

  • Power Settings\Advanced Settings\Sleep\Allow Wake Timers

Looks likely, so I set that to disabled.

It seems to have done the job, but it now means I can't schedule Media player to turn on and record a TV show. There has to be a better way.

Mircosoft! Wake up and listen. We don't want our machines doing unexpected things like waking up from Sleep to download crap we never wanted, especially when it uses non-standard means to do so! (Why doesn't it just set a scheduled task, then we'd know how to stop it.) Media Centre never told me it would do that. There doesn't seem to be a settig to stop it. Do you expect your TV or car to turn itself on in the middle of the night? (Gee, I'm sure I filled up the tank yesterday??) At least make it a visible setting for the Media Centre.

If anyone knows how to fix this properly, please leave a comment.