Allister’s Listener Challenge, Steve’s dumb question about his banking site, and Curt’s dumb question about recording two people from one Mac without a Mixer. I’ll give you my impressions of Windows 7 after 4 weeks of nearly daily use. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart gives us a flood update on Ireland, we talk through a Zero Day Exploit on IE6 and 7 fro XP and Vista with no patch as of when we recorded. Then we talk about the implications of some of the major iPhone developers leaving the iPhone (but some leaving Android to concentrate on the iPhone).
Listen to the Podcast Once (1hr 13min)
Today is Sunday November 29th, 2009 and this is show number 235. Before I get started I wanted to let you know that a new episode of the Mac Roundtable should be out by the time you get this. We had Jonathan Cost of Mac Tips Daily, Adam Christiansonof the MacCast, Don McAllister of Screencasts Online and Katie Floyd of the Mac Power Users and me! My favorite part of the show was their HUGE list of places to find deals – I didn’t know 90% of these sites, I’ll be keeping episode #74 of the MRT as a bookmark just for that! go check it out at macroundtable.com
Jeff wrote in with a very important message. He informed me that his wife would do him bodily harm if he did not correct my pronunciation of the town of Liskeard from Gaz’s letter about the trip the Belgian chocolates made halfway around the world. I forget exactly how I pronounced Liskeard, but I stand corrected and to Mrs. Jeff I sure hope you don’t hurt him now.
Allister Jenks of Sitting Duck Podcast sent in what he calls a “Listener Challenge” and since I couldn’t come close to answering it myself, I throw the challenge out to you to help him.
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Ok NosillaCast listeners, let’s help him find the answer! I’m not sure there IS an answer out there, but if there is, one of you will be the one to find it.
Dumb Question Corner
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Steve sent in an audio dumb question – his bank doesn’t show https at the beginning but after logging in with his credentials it IS a secure site. Is he safe?
I bring in Bart to answer the question – in short no, this isn’t safe. Three ways it isn’t safe:
1 – If the bank had a DNS spoofing attack, meaning you’d type in http://stevesbank.com but it would go to a bad guy’s site, you wouldn’t know because there’s no security certificate to be verified
2 – Man in the middle attack – if you go to that site while on an insecure network, say at a coffee shop or hotel, you can be spoofed
3 – if there’s someone on your network who has a bad thing on their computer they could get into your machine.
Record Two Mics without a Mixer
Curt Beavers wrote in asking a question about how to do a podcast with two people in the same room with one person. He and his friend Tommy are going to start a podcast and they want to be able to see each other while they talk. they tried using a Zoom H2 but they found they moved around too much and the audio quality was very inconsistent. He didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I knew the obvious answer of a mixer with a couple of XLR mics wasn’t in his immediate future. I was pretty sure this couldn’t be done when I got started but I kept noodling on it and I came out with two ways to do this and not spend a house payment making it happen.
One of the fun things about advertising for ScreenSteps is that you guys write to me with success stories about how it helped you out. If you’re new to the show, ScreenSteps is a fantastic program for documenting computer-based tasks for training manuals to instructions for family and friends. Last week David Bogdan who is a teacher in Japan wrote in with this:
- Recently, I’ve been corresponding with a developer about an application, and below is a portion of his latest e-mail. Can you guess what program I used to make the report? “Thank you for your report. In my 17 years working with software on the Internet, this is far and away the most detailed report I have ever received!”
I love that! I chatted a bit more with David about this and he also told me to pass on to Trevor (one of the developers of ScreenSteps) that all the patience and perseverance he showed in their long spate of e-mails about getting Japanese to work paid off;it has kept me using the program.
If you want to have such a pleasant experience in the dreaded documentation phase of your project or just to get your dad off your back always asking the same question over and over again, check out ScreenSteps at screensteps.com and don’t forget my coupon code NOSILLA for $25% off.
Windows 7 Impressions
I’ve been using Windows 7 for several weeks now and I wanted to give you my impressions. Now let’s make sure you know exactly where I’m coming from so there’s no confusion. I’m a Mac bigot/zealot to start with, having been on the Mac since 1984 with no service interruption in the 25 years since then in my home life. I started using Windows for the first time two years ago this coming January, and I started with Vista, never having used XP for more than brief interludes. I must say I wasn’t enchanted with Vista, but I wasn’t comparing it to XP since I’d never really used it. I wasn’t frustrated by things like all the options moving menus and names (like Add/Remove Programs changing to Programs and Features just so you couldn’t find it), but instead I was frustrated by silly behaviors compared to the always perfect and infallible Mac OS. I begrudgingly admitted there were maybe a grand total of two things I liked better about Vista than OSX but those two things escape me at the moment. I started to find that I dreaded Mondays more than ever in my 30 year career and realized it was because I’d have to be on Windows. A common phrase coming from my office was “people actually CHOOSE this?” I don’t tell you all of this for the purpose of bashing Windows but rather to give you the flavor of where this review of Windows 7 is coming from. I thought maybe Windows 7 would be an improvement so I jumped into the deep end.
I’m going to break this up into three categories, first the good, then the “less annoying than Vista” category and then finally the “Still Annoying and New Annoying” category. Some of the things I like about Windows 7 will actually show up in the Annoying category as well because they did something slightly wrong to a good service.
- Search rocks – found a file with one word in it that I had to find. Search in Vista was a complete joke – people literally laughed at me that I thought it would work! W7 search is fast and easy. I especially like earching for apps through the start button. I had installed Launchy which is a free low end application launcher which gives you the basic functionality of Quicksilver.
- I originally wanted to put Search under the annoying category because there was no obvious way to do any meaningful kind of Boolean searches. At first glance you can only filter your search by date or size, and it it searches all the way inside the file AND in the path name so you get way too many hits. For example I needed an Excel file that had the word User in it, and since I was searching in my home directory, which has the word User in the path, search returned every single file in my user directory.
Luckily I thought to ask a consultant friend of mine about search because I couldn’t believe it would be this lame and he gave me some hidden tricks to get really rich capabilities for search. I still have to give Microsoft a few hits for making this hidden but at least it’s there. Let me give you a few of the pointers he gave me. If you look at a folder in the Detail View, you’ll see pulldown arrows next to name, date modified, type, size, etc. I assumed those were still just to sort, but it turns out they’re all filters. So if you click on the one next to date modified, you’ll see a calendar to choose specific dates to filter on, or you can choose last week, earlier this month, earlier this year, or a long time ago. That’s the easiest tip.
Let’s take it up a notch though for the geeks amongst us – in the search field you can enter terms like type:pdf and your search results will filter to only pdf files. Try datemodified:01/10/2009 and you’ll get everything from that date with your search query. If you want to learn all of the search syntax go to MSDN and Technet and look for Windows Search syntax and then go crazy with it. So I have to admit, search rocks on Windows 7 especially if you compare it to Vista.
- Love the hover over icon in the dock and the open windows sort of come out in space in a small thumbnail – click to go to that window, or right click and close right from there.
- Dragging window to the top of the screen to maximize is a very natural action. Discovered that with a two monitor setup, one above the other, stretching the top rather than dragging will make the window stretch to the full height of the two screens, spanning them. (see annoying for more)
- Control Panels available in a long list right off the start bar works very well
- Happy musical sounds – first time I heard it I had on headphones and it made me smile
- I thought it was something in Windows at first that I couldn’t click precisely between two letters, like maybe the cursor location was slightly different with respect to the pointer from the Mac, but then I watched other people who’ve only ever used Windows and they click two and three times to get it in the right spot. I can’t swear to it but I think it’s much easier in Windows 7 to click right where you want to in a line of text.
Stopped being stupid like it was in Vista
- Windows 7 keeps track of external monitors. Gone is the random number generator that was Vista and 2nd monitors. I set up the laptop to an HP in one office with the upper monitor 50% over to the right. Unplugged, put it to sleep, hooked it up to an Apple monitor from the day before and it remembered the correct (and different) placement of that monitor. In my weeks of testing plugging and unplugging it has not once exhibited unexpected behavior. It hasn’t even randomly switched to 640×480 mirrored suddenly like Vista used to do.
- Remember I liked dragging the window up to make it full sized? Well, I seem to trigger it really often when I don’t mean to. I’m constantly swearing at it to stop doing it. Remember I listed under the good category that I like how I can trigger a window to be full screen vertically between two monitors one above the other? Well I trigger it accidentally so many times that now it’s on my nerves too. I wonder if there’s an adjustment like if I hover with it there for more than one second THEN execute the full screen maneuver.
- When you’re installing software, User Account Control kicks in pretty much as it should. On the Mac if you try to install software it asks you for your admin password, and on Windows 7 a window does pop up but it doesn’t ask for an admin password. Ok, kinda lame, but at least it warns you, right? Well it doesn’t do it quite right – it hides the warning underneath all of your other windows windows! so you’re waiting for an installer to complete and it seems to hang up, so you force-quit it, only to find the window underneath asking for permission. There’s a shield icon in the task bar that blinks but it’s not until you click on it that it darkens the screen and forces you to pay attention. I’ve learned now that whenever I’m waiting for an installation I need to move windows around and see if UAC is hiding under one of them. I’m surprised no one else seems to be talking about how lame this is – I wonder if something’s wrong with my install.
- Let’s talk about folder management for a minute. In the Explorer window you get a list of folders on the left sidebar with their little tick marks to expand them. Let’s say the folder you want to navigate is near the bottom of the window. Wouldn’t you think that if you hit the little expansion thingy, the window would change in some way so you could see what’s inside that folder? Well you would think, but no, not in Windows 7. In fact sometimes when it’s partially up the window so at least if it didn’t move you’d be able to see some of what’s inside, it actually scrolls that now expanded folder to the bottom of the window so you HAVE to scroll to see what’s inside it. Completely backwards if you ask me.
- This one is a wish list item, because it exists in OSX. I wish Windows recognized focus on windows so you could hover over a window panel and start scrolling without that extra click.
- Snipping Tool (ships with 7) doesn’t launch 90% of the time
- Once all of my icons in the taskbar but 2 disappeared, had about 10 apps open but they were gone. Suddenly they reappeared.
- Sometimes apps pretend to open but aren’t visible, try to open them again and it says it’s already open. Quitting in task manager allows you to try and open again, but doesn’t open. This happens with Pidgin amongst others.
- Can’t seem to pin a folder to the task bar. bummer. There’s one folder and one folder only.
- Left sidebar of all windows shows Favorites, Libraries, Homegroup, THEN your user folder, followed by Computer and Network. CANNOT change the order, and can’t add folders manually to favorites (that I can find) so the 3rd to the last thing is my user folder – I want it on top!
Here’s the sad bottom line of my analysis, even though I listed a lot more things that bug me about Windows 7 than good things, I still find it much less annoying than Vista. Perhaps the simple fact that I don’t spend 10 minutes a day getting my monitor setup recognized is enough to make me like it better, but whatever it is, it just feels much better to me. There’s definitely room for improvement here, but if you’re on Vista, run don’t walk to go get the upgrade!
Back in 1978 I bought my first car – a little yellow Honda Civic. Somehow I discovered this lovely gentleman who called himself Honda Bob who agreed to come to my house to fix my car. That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Bob and our cars. Ever since that day I have steadfastly only bought Hondas and Acuras because if I ever changed I wouldn’t get to have HDA Bob’s Mobile Service. If you’d like to have in home (ok, in driveway) service for your Hondas or Acuras, and if you live in the LA or Orange County areas, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at email@example.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
floods update in Ireland
Zero day exploit IE6 and IE7 on Windows XP and Vista – it’s in CSS, so easy to attack. Expect a patch soon – pounce on it!
After Bart and I got off the phone I verified that IE8 does indeed run under Windows XP 32 or 64 bit so if you’re running IE7 and for some reason Firefox isn’t doing it for you, maybe you want to run over to Microsoft and download IE8.
Wow – every week I think I won’t have enough material and every week I end up with TONS of fun things to talk about. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show, and I hope you’ll join us soon in the live chat at podfeet.com/live at 5pm GMT-8 on Sunday nights (or Monday morning some time if you’re of the Australian persuasion! Until then keep up your emails correcting my pronunciation of foreign lands, asking those dumb questions like Steve, or just send a note to say hi by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to follow me at twitter.com/podfeet and if you’d like to follow Steve too, check him out at twitter.com/spsheridan. Oh – and if you’ve joined the live chat, be sure to send me a Tweet so I can get your Twitter handle and add it to the Twitter widget list on podfeet.com. I find myself going to my own site now just to see what the really involved NosillaCast listeners are yapping about! Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.