Hype Instead of Content

Microsoft has apparently released some advertising for their new Office flagship collection (Office 2010). The movie can be seen on YouTube here.

I find it upsetting that they can spend lavishly promoting nothing — note that there are zero product shots in this ad. It is pure blockbuster hype.

Arial!? Don’t get me started on Arial. Perhaps MSFT could have spent a little money improving the Windows font engines and licensing some non-horrid fonts from a reasonable foundry. I still think Arial is a poorman’s Helvetica and will never be a substitute.

Checkout Helvetica vs. Arial if you haven’t already seen this.

Surprisingly, there are still quite a few pages on this topic indexed at Google.

Who Writes This Stuff?

Sometimes you just have to wonder what the web developers were smoking. A large trading company recently told me the following after I failed to remember my password in three attempts:

Beacuse I might not be using a web browser to do anything else.

Beacuse I might not be using a web browser to do anything else.

So there goes any hope that I’ll get that task done. They are forcing me to ignore them until I can restart my browser. Who really things this is OK? Why to consumers settle for this kind of quality? We should all know better than this.

Cisco VPN Software Replacement under OS X

Just as I had finished complaining about Cisco’s VPN drivers causing crashes, I stumbled across a macosxhints.com hint about vpnc.

Looks like this is well worth the effort to install and try it out. This will let me get that Cisco code out of my kernel and perhaps make the lock-ups go away.

Further instructions are available at the original poster’s site.

I’ll update this post with my experiences.

Theme Problems

Something isn’t working properly with my normal theme, so I have installed the WordPress ugly default until I can debug the combination of Themes and plugins I was using previously.

VM and VPN woes

I’ve been using a Mac since 2003, and I love it. It is far and away my favorite machine of all time, I’ve had several and I will continue to buy and use them. For software development and general messing around, having a BSD-like OS under a pretty hood has been VERY excellent.

One things that really frustrates me though are the large number of software vendors that truly do not ‘get’ the Mac world and insist on shipping installers (instead of just dragging  / copying to install) and one level worse : installers that ask for a reboot or shutdown other applications. This just isn’t in keeping with the spirit of things on the Apple platform. Wait, there is a level even worse than all this:  Kernel extensions.

My Mac crashes about once a week. It never used to crash, ever. Of all the programs I run, the two right at the very top of the “crash my Mac” list are two that I really cannot do without: Cisco’s VPN Software and VMware Fusion.

Sadly these two applications are very useful, however, they are the worst offenders when it comes to doing things against the grain. The Cisco software creates a proprietary VPN connection (based loosely on IPsec, but not really) and eschews the fact that the Mac has perfectly good IETF-IPsec built right in. Secondly, the driver code is terrible. 9/10ths of my crashes have a stack trace in the kernel that points directly at the Cisco VPN drivers. It isn’t very useful if I have to take my VPN down all the time to avoid crashing my machine.

And VMware fusion, well, they just simply don’t play well with others either. Check out this known issue from their latest release:

Do not install VMware Fusion 2 and CheckPoint SecureClient on the same Mac
When both VMware Fusion 2 and SecureClient VPN applications are installed on one Mac, the Mac OS X stops responding while booting or shutting down.
If you encounter this issue, use the following workaround to boot your Mac in Safe Mode and remove one of the applications:

  1. Make sure the Mac is powered off.
  2. Press the power button.
  3. Press and hold the Shift key immediately after you hear the startup tone (but not before).
  4. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and a progress indicator.
  5. Uninstall SecureClient or VMware Fusion.
  6. Reboot the Mac.

Sorry, you just cannot use us if you use SecureClient. Nice.

Sigh. I think I’ll take my VPN down and reboot prior to launching VMware. Yeah. That’s fun.

Spotted in the Wild: XOF1 Solar Car

As we were driving North on CA-1 on our way back from the elephant seal rookery, KC and I saw an odd vehicle off in the distance. At first it looked like a wide-load with some sort of farm equipment in the front. As the ‘farm equipment’ got closer (it was closing fast) it started to look like a squat vehicle. At first I figured it was a Shell Solar Challenge vehicle, but once we got home we noticed that the news had a story.

It is a fellow Canadian who has made this vechicle (and driving it around North America) quite a project.

More here.

Photo by Jack Snell — I didn’t get a chance to take one as it zoomed by on a twisty section of CA-1.

PS: Damn – it was cool looking and booking along, fast.

WordPress Upgrade

Wow. With much gnashing of teeth, I’ve upgraded to 2.7.1. I have not managed to upgrade my themes, but one step at a time. I had my shared hosting vendor  upgrade the platform a while back and oddly enough this disabled my administrative access and I’ve been largely unable to write new content for almost 3 months. It looks like that problem is fixed and I can post a few entries again.

Update: Apparently I still have some problems, I’m working on it.