Over Here

You are over 40 and on Facebook? Ick

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on August 15, 2007

I am pretty amused by this article by Subena Suri at CNet. This teenage girl received a friend request on Facebook from an icky old 40 year old man. My first reaction to this was “Welcome to the Internet, kid.” Then I wondered if I qualify as an “icky old married guy”. I am over 40, married, and on Facebook. Hmm.

The demographics of the Social Networking crowd are still dominated by teens and 20’s but that is starting to change. More and more adults are using social networking to maintain business relationships and…well… for fun too. We are very sorry Subena but the “average too-old-to-be-on-Facebook kind of guy” isn’t your Father any more. That label only applies to your Grandfather.

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John speaks out. John gets fired.

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on May 11, 2007

As I said in a post yesterday, my brother-in-law made a political commercial in which he spoke out against Bush and out policies in Iraq. Even though he has been speaking out for six months or more, CBS decided to fire him from a role as their military consultant. There is a good article and an interview with John from MSNBC here . Check it out.

Update: CBS apparently has a double standard. Read this. Thanks for the link, Rowena.

Update 2: Someone who probably wants to remain anonymous said, “If he was going to say something that would get him fired, he should just call Bush a nappy headed ho!” :-)

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Five Months with a Mac

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on May 8, 2007

This is a follow up to a few posts I made in Dec about switching to a Mac. I believe I have enough experience now to give a different perspective than I could then. My primary machine has been this Macbook Pro for five months. I can’t say I haven’t looked back because I have. There are some things I like about the Mac and some things I like better about Windows. When I compare to Windows, I am referring to Windows XP. I have not tried Windows Vista yet.

Do I recommend a Mac over Windows?

A lot of people have asked me if I recommend switching to a Mac over Windows. My answer is “it depends“.

If you are a developer or UI designer, “yes“. But even this needs some qualification. I recommend Mac’s for web developers. They can take full advantage of BSD Linux under the covers on a Mac. That is sweet! Web developers can also run Windows within Parallels to test with IE. Running Windows in Parallels is good but not really the same as having a dedicated machine running windows only.

If you are a novice user at home, yes, I would recommend Mac because it is a bit of a smoother experience overall. Applications on the Mac have a very consistent look and feel where Windows is more random. On the other hand, you will have more trouble finding help from someone if you need it … and you will need as much help with the Mac as Windows. With the number of times I have to kill run-away processes or fix some weird hardware problem, I am surprised most people are able to Mac or Windows themselves.

If you have a non-technical job in an Enterprise, “no“, stick with Windows. You are probably using MS Office and Outlook. These are Microsoft products and and they work much better on Windows than Mac. Outlook doesn’t exist on the Mac so you will either have to use Entourage for Calendar and Email or separate programs for each on a Mac. Entourage is NOT a good calendaring program. Outlook wins hands down for Calendar and is a good email client too.

Reliability is no better than Windows. I think I have been around too many people who just love Apple products because of the brand image. I had been lead to believe Macs are more reliable and better in every way than Windows. In my experience, they are about the same and maybe a little worse in reliability. Consumer Reports recently ranked Apple laptops below Sony, IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Toshiba in repair history. But Apple did have the fewest repairs of all leading Desktop manufacturers. Both Apple laptops and desktops are twice as expensive as the Windows equivalents in this same report.

Usability is a little better. OK I haven’t done a scientific study on this. Mac may be earier to learn for a novice because it is more consistent across applications. There are some aspects of the Mac that drive me nuts. Heavy editing is a pain on my Macbook Pro compared to my Dell laptop. The keyboard (hardware) and the key combinations (software) are both cumbersome. Sometimes I start typing and realize I have been modifying a window underneath the one I am looking at.

Hardware and peripherals work much better on a Mac .. until you try to print. Camera, mice, bluetooth, and wifi all work perfectly on the Mac. Bluetooth is almost unusable on Windows. It actually works pretty well on my Mac. I can connect to my phone and sync my address book. Unfortunately, I can’t sync pictures or copy them from my phone as I can on Windows. But it did take me close to a day to figure this out on Windows. Printing is a different story. Finding drivers for your old printer might not be possible. Printing to a network printer can be a pain to set up.

In conclusion, I like my Mac mostly for the brilliant hardware. I also like it as a developer for all it’s flexibility. But I don’t like it as a member of a MS Exchange based enterprise. Am I going to switch back to Windows? Not any time soon. But if my mac was lost or stolen, I would have a hard time deciding if I should get another one.

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Windows Vista – a boost for Apple Mac OS X?

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on February 18, 2007

Working in the Tech industry, it is hard to ignore the Windows Vista launch. I read about it whenever I come across reviews. After reading roughly 30 articles, I can say I have no desire to upgrade to Vista. Some reviewers say it is a worthy upgrade. Walt Mossberg said, Worthy, Largely Unexciting. He says it is visually much better than Windows XP and is more secure. There is also a lot of negative press about Vista. Comments such as a lot like the Mac, loooooong time to get installed and started, and Install fiasco. Stowe Boyd said here, It does not offer enough bang to make users crave it immediately.” And that is exactly how I feel. Even Steve Ballmer has realized Vista isn’t as good as he thought it would be.  It makes me wonder why it took Microsoft so long to release Vista.

Since an upgrade from XP isn’t practical for most people, the switch to Vista will happen when a new PC is purchased. But thanks in part to Apple’s new marketing campaign and a lot of positive press about the Mac, many people are now aware of a new choice. If I had to buy a new machine for home, I’d buy a Mac. I’ve already made that choice for my work laptop.

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I Curse HP Printers

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on January 31, 2007

I have always bought HP printers.  I will not buy another one.  Why?  The HP software sucks so bad that it ruins the printer.  To begin with, you have to be very careful when you insert that HP CD after you buy a printer.  It will install all kinds of crapware on your PC.  You typically have to do this in order to get the drivers for your HP printer.  But then these drivers suck too.  I have a big problem on my home PC, normally used by my wife, with the print queue getting jammed.  A job gets stuck and can’t be deleted.  Nothing else can print because of a stuck job in the queue.  I usually stop and restart the Windows print spooler.  How many people know how to do that?  But this week, that solution didn’t even work.  Why? Only HP knows and they aren’t telling me.  After some googling, I found a solution here.  This solution helped me.  I turned it into a .bat file so I don’t have to struggle with this problem any more.  But I know the real solution is to buy another brand.

You might ask why I don’t update the HP Printer drivers?  Maybe they have a new one on their web site.  Yeah, right.  Their “basic” download, which they actually call basic, is over 43MB!!!  I can imagine all the crapware in that.

So I curse you HP and your crappy software because of all the time I’ve spent working on print problems.  I am fortunate I know how to start and stop a print spooler and delete files deep in the \Windows directory.  How other people deal with this, I’ll never know.

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Giveaway to Bloggers Almost Turns into an Interesting Experiment

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on December 29, 2006

There has been a lot of discussion on the A-List blogs about Microsoft giving and then ungiving a sweet Ferrari laptop loaded with Windows Vista to influential tech bloggers. Microsoft’s PR firm asked the bloggers to use Vista and wants them to write about it. If the PR firm was thinking clearly, they would have treated this hubbub as an experiment and not retracted the gift. But they did retract and in doing so they signaled they had made a mistake. But did they?

There has been a lot of discussion of this giveaway here here here here here here here here and here. Some think it is ok and others think it isn’t. Overall, I think Joel of Joel on Software has the most informed and experienced opinion. The question is did Microsoft buy good reviews with these giveaways? I’m not sure. It is clear they didn’t expect this reaction from the blog community. Will the bloggers give the Laptops back? Have they been influenced by the good will of Microsoft? Or will they look at Vista with an extra skeptical eye because they and everyone else knows Microsoft tried to buy a review? The one sure thing is an unbiased opinion by the bloggers is out of the question.

There is a good reason the government and many companies have limits on the value of gifts to their employees. It influences decisions. But this practice is nothing new and it will not stop any time soon. There are plenty of examples of products that have succeeded with the help of celebrity give-aways and influential placements. The Chrystler 300, Omega Watches, lots of clothing and shoes and many other products are given away to influencers all the time. And it works. You can’t fault Microsoft for trying.

The interesting twist on this giveaway is the effect of the blogs themselves. Never before has there been a way for people to easily talk about this attempt at influence. Microsoft’s intentions have been made clear and exposed for all to see. This could have been a very interesting experiment for Microsoft’s PR firm. Give the bloggers a gift with the clear intention of influencing their writing. Let them talk about the gift. See if it influences their writing. I would love to have the list of bloggers that received laptops so I could watch and see how they spoke about Vista. There may still be some lessons to learn if one watches closely enough. But the experiment has mostly been spoiled.

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