Category Archives: freedbacking

why windows desktop search sucks ass

windows desktop search suckageSo I’m using Windows Desktop Search at work for quick retrieval of emails and files since we’ve grown so used to the “search instead of sort” motto Google thought us. It’s WDS not because we want to use it, but because we have to from the IT guys. They got a bit spooked by the fact that Google Desktop Search allows you to search from other computers, which means parts of company files are stored on Google servers on teh interweb. And t3h intahweb is dangerous! I can get that really, even though it’s a feature you have to activate manually for it to work…

Anyway, so the damn Redmond solution to search it is. Most of it works swell though, but there’s this one thing they got it really wrong. That one thing is the integration with the OS. Yep, you read that one right, their own bloody operating system.

You see, when you’re explorer your files and want to search a file by hitting CTRL-F you used to get this simple Windows search box in the left panel. It’s basic, but it works. Now this panel has of course been replaced by the more advanced, and also more complex Windows Desktop Search. Even if you haven’t indexed the current folder in WDS!

Now, the guys at MicroSoft aren’t stupid, so they warn you about the fact that the current folder isn’t indexed. They also advise you to use the so-called “Search Companion” instead, which is that old search box. They also put a picture of that stupid yellow canine in there again, probably because they found out that the animated search companion bitch (I bet it’s female) is the first thing you turned off after you installed XP. Is that thing still around in Vista btw? I wonder.

Instead of warning you that the search form they are putting up is completely useless, how about directing you to that bloody search companion right away, and save me the frustration of having to do that myself. In a pop-up window of course, using the same window wouldn’t be confusing enough.

So the only option is to index the whole fucking disk if you want to get rid of this nuisance. Which of course eats at your disk space, slows your searches, and stuffs your search results with results you never wanted.

Excellent suckage if you ask me.

let google guide you

Route calculation at lightspeed, wheeeee.It’s kind of remarkable how the folks at Google always manage to lift any kind of application they have a go at to another level isn’t it? Right now for instance they extended their wicked Google maps applications to function as a route planner. Now there are a bunch of route planners out there already, but if you’ve tried Google maps out before you know already that their AJAX driven interface responds way faster than what most of the other services where offering.

Some where clever about this from the beginning, like map24 which uses a Java applet for quick and seamless map and route rendering, beating all of those that are still using the so 80’s static images with their slow page refreshes, yuck.
Besides the fast UI of Google maps the route calculations are blindingly fast as well, and the best part of the whole thing is that you can drag and drop your waypoints along the map, and your route gets instantly recalculated. Sweet!

Now that is kick-ass. It truly is the fasted right now AFAIK, and one thing I particularly like is that they are using the maps from the Belgian-Dutch company Tele Atlas. This insures the maps for Belgium will be on the spot, which was always a bit of a problem when Google launched their maps service in the beginning.

One thing they still need to sort out is the recognition of Belgian streets I’ve noticed. It does fine with city to city, but if you specify a specific street, it doesn’t seem to be finding it, although they are all on the map if you zoom in.

That gives the other map services a bit of time to upgrade their own sites I guess, which can only be good for us. The users.
Joy!

avast antivirus license renewal trickery

Note on 23-01-2011: since the writing of this post, Avast has cleaned up their license renewal act making it easy and clear how to renew the free license. Still using it so far, so go Avast! :)

A slightly GIMPed and artyfied screenshot of Avast.Maybe you haven’t heard of it before but Avast! Antivirus from Alwil Software is virus protection software that can be installed for free by the home user. This is great because that way people at home can benefit grade A protection of their system for free. The fact that they are also selling the same software commercially, with a few more features handy for businesses that have to handle a complete cluster of desktops, confirms that the anti virus solution can be trusted to work. And there’s a pirate reference. Arrrrr!

The only thing you have to do each year, is renew your free license by going to their website, re-enter your email and address data and hit the submit button. A few seconds later you have a new license key in your inbox that works for another year. Sweetness.

I love this piece of software just for these reasons. It’s free, and you know it’s quality.
This year there is a slight difference however. This year I got this pop-up telling me that my license had expired, so no biggy there. But when I clicked it I got a message that I found rather misleading. The message was in Dutch, but I’m translating here:

Your computer is now completely UNPROTECTED. Since your license has expired Avast! can not protect your computer against future threats. We advise you to renew your license.

Besides the fact that this sounds like Avast! is from now refusing to protect your system, which I’m sure isn’t the case, this sounds rather scary. I know this is probably how they want to urge people into getting a new license, but still, I think people might panic a bit when they see this kind of message.
Anyway, this isn’t the worst bit. The shitty part about the screen with this message is that the only option you have by default is to upgrade to the professional version. Now there’s a little arrow at the bottom which, if clicked, unfolds the two other options you have, which are the free version, and an uninstall option (not advised they say, heh).

You can check the Dutch screenshots here.

It's a computer screen, and it's coming at you!Ok, so people have to click a button to get their free version. Right, but there’s more. In the descriptive text of the free Home edition they talk about how the professional edition offers a better protection, and installing the Home edition is a “downgrade” of your version. Which it isn’t because I already have the Home edition.
This kind of description makes people think they might be less protected against virii if they don’t upgrade to the professional version, while that is not the case. If you check out the differences between both version you’ll see that the professional version includes mainly additional features to work with scheduled tasks. Stuff that’s handy if you have a large amount of machines to administer, but not if you’re a home user.
One more snag in this, is that when I click the option for the Home edition, the popup doesn’t go away. I ended up having to kill it manually to be able to fill in the registration form. I hope they fix that bug at least.

This kind of practice pisses me off. It’s kinda like that bloody fine print people don’t read and gets them screwed in the end. Still, if you read the fine-print, and you know what you are doing, which isn’t the case for a lot of folks using computers, you’ll be fine, and still using the free version. People who don’t know much about computers, and want to play safe might be tricked into buying a Pro version which they don’t need. Lame.

So to end this with some proper advice. If you get that red warning message in your bottom right corner, you can skip this whole mess and go straight to the registration page and get yourself a new license key.

metatale and belgian blog influence

Haha, the irony!!Since I’m scoping out the local Belgian blogosphere lately I read about a project that’s trying to measure the influence of the Belgian, or to be more exact, Flemish blogs and put them in a neatly ranked list.

The project is called Metatale and it proves once again that measuring popularity (which is basically what defines interest here) doesn’t alway turn up very interesting results. I was hoping to find some new rss feeds with sweet, fresh content to feed my brain with, but alas, none of that is the case.

Besides the few I am already tracking, because they seemed to be some of the biggest in our small country, there isn’t that much noteworthy in there at first glance. Those few made it into the top 10, so congrats for that I guess. Unfortunately they have to share their top positions with blogs that excel in tabloid style posts containing boobies, hardly dressed girls, skanky youtube vids and more boobies.

But then again, boobies rawk!

wordpress upgrade

So I went ahead and upgraded to the latest and greatest WordPress version, being v2.1.2. Always a bit tricky this kind of thing, but I have to say that I never ran into any real issues when upgrading so kudos for the guys working on WP and making the upgrade truly easy and only taking a few minutes!

It took a wee bit longer though for me, because I noticed some issues with my custom theme, but that was just because I’m using the get_links() function, which takes a category ID as a parameter. Apparently in the upgrade the categories used for the blogroll have now been merged with the categories for the posts, which means the IDs changed. Which means I had to update the sidebar code so the new IDs where used.

But that’s the only snag I hit. Which is nice.
I’m also using a new plugin for the feedburner rss redirection. I used a hack before in wp-feed.php, but since the file changed in the new version, and using a plugin is a so much more elegant solution. Let’s hope it works!

akismet pwnz spam

A country road leading through yellow fields to a blue sky with pretty white clouds in it. Or freedom for short.You might or might not have heard about Akismet before, but in case you haven’t let me tell you that that little WordPress plugin is simply a godsend.

Even a small blog like mine isn’t small enough to stay out of the cross hair of the evil spammers on the internet. I just noticed once again how this plugin is doing it’s job silently behind the scenes, filtering out the spamy comments without me having to bother with it for a second.

Yesterday I upgraded my WP config to the latest 2.0.6, and in the process the Akismet plugin got disabled, as it was also upgraded with this update. I didn’t notice this until today, as I noticed that 76 comments where waiting for moderation… and all where spam.

I can’t imagine having the comment functionality active on this blog if I’d have to go through such an amount of crap daily, trying to filter out the few real comments people leave here now and then.

If for some extremely odd reason you are not blogging using WordPress, and you want to use this divine piece of code as well to protect your blog or forum, check out the Akismet development section. There are plugins for other platforms in there as well, and Python, Ruby and other libraries to implement the functionality into whatever you see fit.

Just spreading the word here, cause this thing is bloody brilliant.

neave.tv, a streaming web video experiment

There are lots of video sites popping up all over the place recently, like YouTube, Google Video and Blip.tv. All very nice of course, but you can waste a serious amount of time clicking through tons of crappy vids to find some decent stuff.

The Neave.tv site I came across through a dead tree blog (C’T magazine) has an interesting approach however. It uses videos from the above services, and gives you a TV-like interface using a nifty flash applet with a number of channels for your zapping pleasure. I like the feel of the app a lot. It’s slick, fast and when you zap you get this funky distorted image effects as if you’re actually changing channels on an oldskool analog television set. Yes. Eye candy pwnz.

The channels currently contain a limited number of topical videos, but all the videos are of good quality which is what matters innit. There’s the typical music channel of course, but to pick one I’d say the subversive channel is one of my personnal favorites, featuring some really cool videos.

It would be cool if the channels would get updated content in the future, and if more channels where available. This could really be a kickass thing if people would be able to create channels of their own, and simply fill those channels with the best videos available on the video hosting services all over the interweb.

Anyone could become his own channel VJ and with topics ranging from how to breed your very own bonzai kittens, the newest trends in tiny bikini fashion, or how to make breakcore by playing a drum computer with your bum.
I know, it would rock like so much and stuff.

One more cool thing about this one. For some reason it gets through the corporate firewall. Really. No other video flash players manage to get their bits through it, but this one does without a glitch. Awesome.