OneNote

I have been playing with Microsoft’s OneNote (guessed at URL) software. It’s huge for what is for me just a Notepad replacement! At the moment I am just using one of the many possible screens to record notes and URLs I might want to visit in the future. It certainly offers a bit more flexibility than good old Notepad and makes a very useful scratchpad. Will post further should I actually do anything more with it…

Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons

Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons:

Creative Commons offers free copyright licenses to artists and creators. The purpose of the license is to enable the artist or creator to mark his or her copyrighted work with the freedom he or she intends the work to carry. Those “freedoms” are the exclusive rights that copyright grants the copyright holder which the law permits the copyright holder to waive. The design of the system is to be automatic. No contract, or meeting of the minds, is intended. It is simply a license that says “if you use my copyrighted work in ways that would otherwise infringe my exclusive rights, I won’t sue you if you have abided by this license.” (The law makes everything ugly, but anyway, that’s what it does.)

Richard Grimes on .NET

Good in depth article here. Link from OS News.

I started using .NET when it was in technical preview at the beginning of 2000; at that time it was called COM+2 and the main language was something called Cool. The framework briefly became Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) before some marketing wonk came up with a term that really would confuse Internet search engines: .NET. How many times have you been asked what .NET means and what relationship it has to .COM and .ORG? Of course, Cool faired no better. Some bright spark decided to call it C#, which initially confused search engines and users alike. The search engines did not like the # character and the users did not know how to pronounce it (C-pound? Or for those of us on the eastern side of the Atlantic, C-hash?). Almost the first thing I posted on the technical preview newsgroups was a simple console application in Cool, and its equivalent in Java with the rhetoric question to spot the difference. That solicited a robust response from the Visual Studio Product Manager who didn’t really see the point that I was making.

Portable PCs

I am really getting settled down now with the various systems I have put together. I really like using gmail for, duh, my email, and the Yahoo! calender is coming in very handy. I am pretty confident, having thought about it, that I am going to put the webmail notes hack into place, and of course I really like WordPress as a blog engine, and am settled into Bloglines for my RSS feeds for now.

The only difficulty with all of this is the fact that none of it is available without a PC. I really need to get some sort of handheld device, if only to take notes and things whilst offline. But even better would be if I could email, access my calender and post to here from an online PDA type device. Is this possible? I don’t know much about them. Plus, I haven’t any money for this kind of thing. Perhaps I should just forget about it all…

FeedDemon decision

Well, my trial has finished on FeedDemon, and at the moment I’ve decided not to go ahead and cough up, mainly for one very good reason: BlogLines, which suits me better because it is more portable. If I had a laptop or tablet PC, I would stick with FeedDemon, because it’s a great piece of software. But I do my blog reading at work, largely, and don’t have time at home. So being able to access by feeds from anywhere is a big bonus for me.

It’s a shame, in a way, because I really liked the system.

New Cringely Column

Another great column today from Bob Cringely, this time on the subject of the resignation/firing of Carly Fiorina as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Usually I come up with my own column topics, but sometimes readers simply demand that I write about this or that. This week, the pull is coming from two different directions — those who want a take on the Toshiba-Sony-IBM Cell Processor announced this week, and those who want my reaction to the firing of Carly Fiorina as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. These would seem to be very different topics, but if you stand far enough away and squint, they look nearly the same. The Cell Processor represents a technical revolution that is about to take place in high-tech business, while Carly Fiorina represents management that was poorly prepared to lead or even adapt to that revolution. It was a smart move to let her go, though the real test for HP’s board will be finding a proper successor.

John Naughton blogs the subject here.

MS updates: real Windows users only need apply

The Register reports that Microsoft are planning to

stop providing updates to non-genuine versions of its Windows XP operating system as part of its anti-piracy campaign.

I’m flagging this up not because I disagree – it seems quite reasonable, really – but because I wanted to download an update, using my (I should point out) legitimate copy of Windows XP, a week or so ago, and it wouldn’t accept my verification code. I was irritated, and I must have another look into it and contact the MS support bods.

MS Word – the perils thereof

F**king Word!!

There are some things Word is good at. There are some that it is completely crap at. One of those is the classic mistake of using it as a DTP package.

The thing just doesn’t work! I’ve been handed a report to complete which is full of text boxes, shaded backgrounds for text, slightly complicated headers and other bits and bobs. It took me half an hour to stop the header printing on the first page, but on every page after that. ‘Easy!’ most people would cry. ‘Just set the first page to be different in the page setup dialogue!” Yeah, it would be easy, but doing that meant that pages 5 and 17 wouldn’t have them either. Confused? I was. In the end I had to go through the entire document with the formatting tags turned on deleting all the ‘Section breaks’ Word had so kindly inserted. After all, if you have numbered heading you are bound to want random formatting and headers being included all over the place, wouldn’t you? Jesus Christ.

That’s nothing compared the the problem I am still yet to solve though. Chapter headings are shaded across the whole page in black. On one, though, the line on the previous page, where the page break is, is black too. Remove that shading, and it goes from the heading. Insert a new line, delete page break and a new page break and it works, but the heading is a line space too far down the page. Delete line space. The page break line becomes black again. Hit head on desk and through mouse at screen in disgust. Ask boss if future reports can be written in Notepad.

Seriously, if offices invested in the right software, this wouldn’t be happening. Equally, if Word didn’t try and spoon feed the user it probably wouldn’t happen either.

It still leaves me with a report to sort out for publication this week, and I haven’t a clue how to fix the damn thing. At least this year’s will be designed entirely by me, and I’ll only have myself to blame…

Update: Richard, the report’s original author, has just informed me that the same problem was the bane of his life too. His fudge, in the end, was the do it with the extra line break and then reduce the eight of that line to the smallest possible, thus making it appear that it (almost) isn’t there.