Bits of Shiny Broken Windows

I've been poking at Windows 7 Beta at work. The flying monkeys in Redmond might have something going.

I've been poking at Windows 7 Beta at work. The flying monkeys in Redmond might have something going. Comparing it to Vista makes Vista look really pathetic.

First off Windows 7 Beta runs just fine on older hardware as long as you don't expect game machine performance. I have it running on a DELL 755, its an Intel chipset with a 2.4GHz Celeron cpu with the stock on-board video chip, a “graphics accelerator” 3100. There is 1GB of RAM in the system that shares with the video . It does some Aero effects without hesitations. Its basically Vista SP3 or 4, the way it should have been.

One thing I've seen in Vista is that at times it looks like its doing some search or some kind of file operation but nothing seems to be moving. While this is happening, the explorer window goes inert and nothing can happen until whatever is going on finishes. Its extremely annoying to the point that I close Explorer if I can. In Windows 7 that doesn't seem to happen. BTW, that's with SP1 on the Visaster system.

Mapped network connections in Vista come and go at some seemingly arbitrary schedule. This has an effect on the mapped drive connections the local IT guy insists on mapping with his start-up script. Sometimes they are there, sometimes not. It might be necessary to kill all the mappings just to get a little more performance. I experimented with a batch file and ran net x: /DELETE on each drive, things started running a little faster.

I also tried installing WIndows 7 on an old DELL 280 at work but it turns out the Beta won't install in anything less than 512 MB. I'll dig up some more RAM and try it out.

What would be really neat is if they decided to break Windows 7 into components like Windows XP and offer an embedded form of the OS. Its probably the way they can get it to fit on netbooks since they've announced that Win 7 will be available on the netbooks to compete with Linux and presumably Android when it comes out.

I let Windows 7 on one system do a 30 day timeout just to see what would happen. I got the Black Screen of Aggravation just like the Chinese are getting on their pirated software images after 30 days. It still boots up, it just doesn't give you a pretty background. At least on mine if you attempt to set it to something other than black, on the next bootup the background is black again. The other thing it does is reboots periodically. I haven't bothered to check the event files but I suspect that the other part of the equation is that there is a 1 hour runtime between reboots.

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I happened across an official website for Windows Home Server. Kraken was a good name for that product. It seems to have disappeared into the briny deep. There was an announcement of a new patch coming out soon but that seemed to be it. I don't think I have seen any advertising for it at all since its release. Its probably still out there but certainly without much attention. Maybe its on its way to extinction like MS Bob. Another fishy stinker.

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I've also been dissecting a web site owned by a friend for his business who's asked for help. The site was created by somebody else using Microsoft's FrontPage. Unfortunately its an excellent example of “FrontPage/ActiveServer malpractice”. I'm sure it would qualify for worst webpage honors with a dishonorable mention for abuse of common sense.

The site was “written” using FrontPage 5 and Visual Studio 7. I don't remember a FrontPage 5, maybe the marketing guys called it something else. Visual Studio 7 would be using the first dotNet release I believe. The problem was that FrontPage came with a full suite of embeddable Active X components. Although FrontPage was a pretty decent product idea, it probably helped promote the development of malware all over the planet. It enabled hundreds, maybe thousands of people to think of themselves as “webmasters” to the detriment of the Internet user community.

This particular site is a single page that replaces chunks of itself with pictures that replace each other using embedded VB script and Javascript code that move the pictures around. The scripts were obviously copied and pasted from some website or CDROM since the help text is still embedded in the page code blocks. There are at least a hundred pictures used and they are huge, full size jpgs that should have been shrunk down. The scripts basically animate the photos by moving them right to left across the page after they get rendered and re-sized off-page. Everything runs at a snail's pace even on a DSL connection. I thought I was back dealing with dial-up.

The topper though is that there are so many obvious spelling errors I'm pretty sure the “webmaster” didn't even have a clue that FrontPage had a spell-checker it shared with Office, at least I remember that FP2000 did. My recommendation already delivered is to trash the site and start from scratch. Its a maintenance nightmare and an embarrassment. In my case I'm going to be teaching/helping my friend's family to be able to maintain a new web site without requiring outside help.

As a public service and a humanitarian gesture to the Internet community, it would be wonderful if Microsoft would put expiration code into all of their Web page generating software like they did in Vista so that websites made with FrontPage and now Web Expression etc etc all erase themselves after 1 year of existence. That ought to be long enough for the diligent DIY WebMasters to learn how to do it right and fix their mistakes or have the code automatically clear the debris of busted websites created by amateurs. They could call it Green Programming. It Bio-degrades itself if it doesn't get regular maintenance.

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