Monday, September 14, 2009

My Windows 7 Book

 Shameless self-promotion department: For you Microsoft Windows 7 users, you may want to check out my new book on the topic. My coauthor, Brian Knittel, and I are really pleased with how this book came out. It's 1100 pages long, is published by Que (they have been my publisher for about a decade now), and is dubbed Windows 7 In Depth. It covers all versions of Windows 7. Check it out on Amazon, where you can read the table of contents and a description, and if you have a Kindle or Kindle Reader software, you can be reading it in less than a minute. Here's a little more info:



Product Description


Beyond the Basics…Beneath the Surface…In Depth

Microsoft Windows 7 In Depth is the comprehensive guide to Microsoft's Windows 7 for everyone who's no longer a Windows beginner: corporate, small office/home office, and personal users alike. Top Windows authors Robert Cowart and Brian Knittel have packed this 1,100-page book with intensely useful and practical information that can't be found elsewhere. You can turn here for expert guidance on... " Migrating to Windows 7 as an individual - or rolling it out throughout a business " Making the most of Windows 7's powerhouse media tools " Installing, configuring, and managing Windows 7 networks more quickly and efficiently " Securing Windows 7 PCs against spam, spyware, viruses and other "Net Nasties" " Using the updated Windows 7 interface more efficiently " Troubleshooting and solving Windows 7 problems more rapidly " And much more..


About the Authors

Robert Cowart has written more than 40 books that have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide. He made his name writing for Sybex and Osborne, most notably the best-selling Mastering Windows series of books. As an author and media developer for Que, Bob has written numerous Windows titles, including multiple editions of Que’s flagship Windows book, Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows. Bob recently graduated from the California Institute of Integral Studies as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (MFTI), starting his private practice as a psychotherapist in Northern California.

Brian Knittel is a software developer, consultant, and writer. He’s authored or coauthored many of Que’s best-selling Windows books, including Que’s leading Windows book, Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows. Brian also is the author of Windows XP Under the Hood and coauthored Upgrading and Repairing Microsoft Windows with Scott Mueller.

Here's the link.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Would you like to upgrade? NO!

What is with the overzealous programmers or app-development managers who think people are going to think it's cool or that they are getting added value if they have to upgrade their software every other day? It's getting to the point that I cannot boot up or do a day's work without having to update something or other. With Vista often I can't even shut down the PC without doing an update. iTunes is the worst about this. What is going on over at Apple, for god's sake? Don't they realize what a hassle this is? I just went to purchase an episode of Mad Men on the iTunes store and it wouldn't even let me make the purchase without upgrading iTunes once again! I think it was just last week that I had upgraded. And the update did not just require that I close iTunes but I had to uncheck at least 4 invasive options, click to accept the legalese that we never read, switch to my browser to do the download, choose the download folder, and click about ten times on various odds and ends! We all know that these updates are often an attempt by a company to mine your email and other contact info and see if the user is still alive. Why not just put up a dialog box once in a while and ask "Hey! Are you still alive? Can we keep trying to mail you spam from us and our associates?"

Just as there is a registry for opting out of phone solicitations (do-not-call lists), there should be a 'leave me alone and let me get my work done for a week' option. Inexperienced users are intimidated by all these messages anyway and don't know if they are legit or viruses, and besides, 'upgrading' often breaks an app or the way an app interacts with other apps or their add-ins. It's like when you're sitting in a restaurant and you've just gotten your coffee's balance of milk, sugar, and temperature the way you like it, and the waitress comes breezing past and tops you up, with that happy little smile, ruining the work you just did. Once I get my apps working (especially something as complex as Office), no I do not want to upgrade!

When it comes to Windows Update, do not force a reboot of my PC when I am away from it because I probably have 20 windows open with various pieces of work that are in progress and web pages open!

One of these days all apps will live on the Cloud. Then maybe it will be ok to update apps without annoying the end user too much (though UI changes will not win you friends), but until then, programmers and managers -- please limit updates to major upgrades, not petty bug fixes. We are trying to get work done with our computers. Imagine if each time you went to use your toaster a message popped up: "You need to update the firmware before you can make toast today."

Ok. While I was writing this rant I was"upgrading" iTunes. My iTunes upgrade took 20 minutes, I had to tell Vista that yes, I did want to run this program and that I trust where it came from, and now it's too late to download Mad Men and watch it. Then I had to ok the legalese again, had to refuse having iTunes be the app of choice for all sound files on my PC, I had to run iTunes, navigate to the store again, search for the episode I want to download. Well, I just saved $2.99 at least (and Apple is out a sale). But at least I have a vague satisfaction of having successfully upgraded to version and wasted 20 minutes of my life. Well, 30 because now I get to learn the new interface 'features' that I did not want and did not ask for and was not allowed to opt out of if I wanted to download Mad Men season 3 episode 2.

Aargh! Frakking computers! Where is that paperback I was reading? Oh it's in my Kindle. (I signed up for this great idea called the paperless office last month.) Hmm... Did I remember to charge it up? Oh hell, I'm going to put a vinyl record on the record player, and fix a cup of coffee just the way I like it.

Windows Vista sucks

Vista sucks! OK, yeah I have written two books about it, but that's because I write books about every version of Windows (since version 3.0). I can say quite clearly that Vista should not have been released, and was not ready for prime time. Windows 7 is Vista as it should have been released the first time. It is fast, light, and works. I have had nothing but trouble with Vista (despite some very cool features such as better security, amazing voice recognition, and an improved interface), since I have installed it on my VAIO desktop or purchased the 64-bit version in a HP tablet PC. Love the tablet, by the way (tx 2500) - a steal for $900. Friends are always asking if they should get Vista and I usually just clear my throat and struggle with what to say. Yes, security is better than on XP. Yes, managing multimedia is easier/better. Yes, the instant search box at the Start button is great, and breadcrumbs are cool. But waiting sometimes TEN MINUTES to boot up, or almost that long to shut down, or any number of other networking instability problems, or generally running a lot less briskly than XP -- it ain't worth it.

I have to admit that as of late I have been spoiled by the impeccable programming and interface design on the iPhone. I finally broke down and got one (3G s) and it is so slick, interface-wise, that every other PC or phone maker should be embarrassed by its mere existence. I will post a blog entry of my comparison of Windows Mobile to iPhone later. It's a long comparison but essentially, the iPhone experience has me thinking about Macs and Apple in a new way. That should mean a lot, coming from a guy who has written over 20 Windows books and stopped using Apple computers after the Lisa in the mid-80's and who simply hates that Macs are typically twice as expensive as PCs and run only a fraction of the software. But now with Intel-based Macs and the option of running Windows in parallel on a Mac,