Thursday, August 20, 2009

1300 Setting in IE8 - not enough!

Our customers often feel abused and tormented by's just another rock in their backpack. So it was not surprising that I discovered today that Microsoft has built in over 1300 options in Internet Explorer.

In their own words:

There are approximately 1300 Group Policies for managing Windows® Internet Explorer® 8. Configuring these for the first time may seem like a daunting task.

How could a browser have 1300 options? OMG! What design purpose could be served by such complexity? Does the user want these options?

I spent over an hour finding and adjusting one of these 1300 options to allow QuickBooks to run for a customer logging into a session on a Windows 2008 Terminal Server. The default settings for Internet Zone security properties wouldn't allow QuickBooks to operate. OMG! Why does a bookkeeping program care about Internet properties? Can't I just use it to write checks and print bills? Obviously not in today's connected world.

Wake me up when the Windows 2008 nightmare is over. Can we just have DOS back?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Like practicing law in a corrupt country

We [maybe, nearly] finished the upgrade of a Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition to Microsoft's latest, flagship product for small businesses: Windows Server 2008 Small Business Edition. This product is one of four Microsoft server versions to choose from. They are masters of monopoly marketing. Why look for an alternative if Microsoft offers everything you need?

This server will be used in a law firm with 12 employees. They have a dedicated web server, a dedicated VOIP system server and a dedicated Terminal Server. A Gen-X'er would say their technology was majorly tricked out.

But as a consultant I come away from the four day, 32 hr install-fest (that doesn't include the 8 hours of preparation,) feeling like a lawyer who practices in a corrupt country. The deck is stacked, the outcome dependent on the 'fix' that can only come from Microsoft. Your skills are irrelevant, your ambitions frustrated. If you're having trouble getting the system to work it must be because you are incompetent!

Windows 2008 is Vista on steroids. It is configured out of the box less like a Ferrari than a Fisher Price Pull Toy: you can drag it around your network but without serious Googling, support from friends and forums, and expensive phone calls to Microsoft, it doesn't do anything. Microsoft has recoiled into defensive server configuration mode that their server doesn't do anything without disabling, undoing and overriding 'features' designed to protect you from yourself.

If this experience is typical of hundreds of thousands of small businesses that are going to be prodded to upgrade from Server 2003 soon, we will all be able to share the young lawyer's experience in a dictatorship defending the rights of his client against the power of the state and a corrupt judiciary.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finally, the Million Dollar Madness is [almost] over

The NY Times reported today that In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History. This couldn't happen to a more anachronistic habit of public education.

If we can save hundreds of millions of dollars on outdated, proprietary and increasingly irrelevant implements of education maybe we can start to spend more where it counts: inspiring teachers, personalized education plans and creating curiosity!

I hope Indiana catches on.