Beta Testing

Windows 7 Upgrade advisor ran into a problem

I downloaded the Windows 7 upgrade advisor from Microsoft, that is currently in beta on both my work and my home pc to see what the differences were. The work laptop had some warnings but the software fails on the home pc. I get a very unhelpful message of “Windows 7 Upgrade advisor ran into a problem scanning your devices. Upgrade advisor needs to be able to scan your devices to determine if your computer is capable of running Windows 7. Please let us know about this problem.”

Unfortunately there is no UI to send the feedback to Microsoft and there is nothing on the download page either.

MovableType4 beta

The first hurdle of installing MovableType beta4 is that the download page does some fancy redirection to push the download to your browser which is not helpful if you have disabled ftp upload up to your dreamhost website and want to download it via wget from within a shell. However there are a couple of sites that point to a direct location that was made public when the beta was first released so you can get it (for now) from sippey. There is a nice tutorial on installing MT4 on dreamhost

Initial SharedView thoughts

Kevin Devin asked how SharedView fits with Netmeeting and Livemeeting – my first thought when I was using this product was that it appeared to provide similar functionality to netmeeting. This product is actually the Tahiti product that Microsoft purchased, rebranded and re-released as a new beta product.
I’ve not used netmeeting for several years so the statements may not be entirely accurate.
However the differences I see are as follows

  1. Looks a lot nicer than the netmeeting did.
  2. You can share your desktop with up to 15 people – netmeeting was limited to 1.
  3. Works much better through firewalls – I’m guessing it is http based so no firewall tweaking needed.
  4. No directory support included – netmeeting had the ability to join a directory of available chats – this needs an email address to connect to the original host (but there must be a directory on MS’s servers somewhere but it is just not viewable to the public)

I didn’t find the performance to be that great, with my two pc’s connected the screen refresh was pretty slow and artifacts would often be left behind on the screen. I did like the fact that you could see the guests cursors (but this would be pretty hectic with 15 guests) but you can turn this feature off.
If another program was moved over the top of the shared application, a grey box would appear on the guest screen where the application was – this almost looks like screen corruption but it isn’t.
The host computer will only share one monitor, spreading the shared application over 2 screens will only share the portion of the application on the hosted screen
It takes a small part of the desktop as the controls get placed at the very top of the screen – a nice feature would be to merge this into the title bar of the application to recover a little more screen estate.
File sharing worked nicely and I was easily able to share files between the two computers. It would be nice to have the downloaded file appear in a most recently downloaded window or have the option to open the file once it was downloaded in the same manner ie/firefox does.
I’ll be adding my feature notes to the Sharedview forums shortly.

AV trial for Vista

CA are doing a free trial of Vista Antivirus software. Thanks to Digitalfive which is a new blog I’ve added to my reading list even though i don’t have Vista yet as I don’t have a machine powerful enough to run it (apart from my home machine but that needs to be stable(ish)
I’m also sorely tempted to download the Office2007 beta now that the rush is over, but again I don’t really have a machine to put it on – the main pc at home only has works – which is all I need on the machine, and the office pc is hands off. I also don’t have access to an exchange server to put 2007 against, and you really need to make outlook your main mail client to get the best shot of testing it. I’m fairly happy with thunderbird, although I wish it wouldn’t disable my extensions every time I upgrade to a newer version and I miss macro’s.

Microsoft Max

I think that Microsoft Max stands for Maximum Hassle, Maximum uselessness and Maximum Waste of time. I downloaded the small stub installer yesterday and then when you install it, it insists on downloading a winfx graphics pack and some other files that it needed. This took about 40 minutes on my fast connection so I dread to think what it would be like on dialup. I find stub installers very annoying as it means you can’t burn the application setup program to cd ready for reinstallation at a later date/another machine – instead you have to spend ages downloading. Then after it had installed it insisted I signed up for an account/linked my max account to my passport account. Thats all very well and good, but the email that is meant to get sent to my passport account never arrives. I then realised that this was probably due to the fact that I have to have my hotmail junk filter to exclusive due to the amount of spam I get even on the enhanced option. A solution to this is to add [email protected] to your contacts in hotmail before you attempt to activate/log into Max.
Once signed into an account it doesn’t seem possible to sign out from that account and re-sign in with a different account as you only get prompted for your password address and not your email address. Actually after renaming store.xml and settings.xml in %userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Microsoft Codename Max you can sign in as someone else, but this doesn’t do you any good as Max is a peer to peer application so you both need to be running it at the same time.
Oh and did they forget to mention the fact “If your ISP does not support IPv6, you will not be able to access websites after you install Max. ” (from the readme that doesn’t get displayed when you install the software). They also have a blog of help posts but these do not appear on the main page unless you select one of the categories.

Google Talk.

From the bbc I found a link to Google Talk – their latest beta product enabling free voip for computer to computer chat.
What I can’t understand is the need for yet another im/voice chat running on yet another protocol. Surely all these conflicting services mean people end up with too many ways of communicating so they need to buy faster machines and bigger screens to cope with all the icons in their system tray (I have 19 at the moment!). This also seems to be moving away from the “one number gets me anywhere” philosophy that people would like. Now to get hold of me you can send me an email, ring me on the home phone, the mobile, send me an sms, yahoo, google, msn, aol message me (and you used to be able to contact me via irc but I don’t do that anymore).
The big drawback of this app is that it doesn’t do talk to landlines.
Update I’ve added my systray picture to flickr tagged with systray – what does yours look like?
My systray

Nav2006 first impressions

I’m not impressed. The product ships with virus definitions dated the 12th July and running Liveupdate says there are no new defs to install (but did install product updates the first time I ran it). However the pc upstairs running Nav2005 has definitions dated the 20th July. This might not be too bad on its own if it wasn’t for the fact that NAV constantly complains that the defs are out of date and to run live update. This complaining takes the form of popup messages in the corner of the screen and a yellow coloured caution bar containing a triangle and Norton in the bottom right of the screen next to the system tray. Why they couldn’t have just put the application in the system tray like everyone else I don’t know. Right click on Norton status and select Move to System Tray.
The one plus point to having the bar is that when the application silently crashes you can tell because the bar disappears which is more noticable than having an icon in the systray disappear (which can happen with xp hiding icons when it feels like it). Yes, Nav has already crashed on me once and the only reason I noticed was because my email server refused to connect to any of my pop3 accounts yet I could ping them ok. Nav crashing had taken out the forwarding part of the proxy service but was still capturing the outgoing traffic – just not forwarding it onto the mail server. As the bar had vanished I realised what the problem was and restarted the application (and said YES I KNOW THE DEFS ARE OUT OF DATE)
Another plus point is that I can now use Google Desktop search again as it is compatible with Nav – it wasn’t with Nod32 although this isn’t really a plus point to be honest.
The beta only lasts another 14 days (although their website says 30) and I’m glad as so far the product is really awful. The initial scan of my hard disk took 6 hours for the 100gb of data (how did i get that much so quickly?) and the machine was pretty much unusable at this time as the response time was awful. It wasn’t too bad if only one application was used but switching applications would take at least 60 seconds before the new one was available.
I have posted these points to Symantec with at their feedback page and had no response back from them whatsoever. I think a beta program really should have a feedback forum so that it is possible to tell if anyone else is having the same problem and provide an ongoing support conversation with Symantec.