Windows Vista 64 bit

I should have listened to the latest TWiT before I installed the 64 bit version of Vista. Turns out that Microsoft has drawn a line in the sand between 32 and 64 bit versions. Hardware will need to be compatible. No more unsigned drivers. And, most interesting of all, the Windows Core will be protected from code running under Windows.
What does all of this mean to the everyday user? Absolutely nothing. Your IT department (or Dell, for that matter), will make it work..or they won’t. Some antivirus software (Symantec and McAfee) will have to play by different rules. Yep, this means that your current antivirus software won’t work on Vista 64 bit until these changes are made. And some of your other software won’t work.
Other than that, most of the reviews of Vista seem to indicate that it’s not too bad. People like the Aero Glass interface. It runs pretty quick on new equipment. All in all, not bad.
Lesson for the casual user? Don’t install 64 bit Vista…or 64 bit XP for that matter..both suffer from the same malady…or fix, depending on your perspective.

Do All Problems Float To the Top?

Much of the work I do is with companies that are replacing their accounting and operational software. You hear it called a lot of things, but the most common industry term is ERP (enterprise resource planning) software. As I’ve written somewhere (maybe here), this includes accounting, inventory, order entry, purchasing, manufacturing, sales, marketing (CRM), service, and other software required to plan the “enterprise.”
Clients often begin our initial meetings with a list of “what they need.” It might sound something like this: “We have Software X, and it won’t do A, B, and C for us.” Sometimes the software is too small for the company (they have outgrown the features), sometimes the software is old, sometimes it never really worked and the issues have simply become overwhelming. At least part of the time, the software has been custom written. But whatever the reason, they’re moving on.
I tell clients, “We treat cancer.” In 20 years in this business, I’ve never had a client come to me and say, “Bob, we’re looking for new software. We don’t have any real problems, but it’s been 5 years since we replaced our accounting system and we think it’s time to get something new. We just think it’s time to stir everyone up, retrain everyone, make all the resistant to change people in the organization mad, and generally create chaos.”
No, they come to us and say, “We need A, B and C.” The problem is that what floats to the top is often only a part of the whole need for the company. If the company makes the mistake of buying software based on this type of an analysis, it’s not uncommon to have a great deal of trouble making the change. Basically, a key set of needs is ignored.
This is one of the big reasons that I’ve begun to do Needs Analysis in the last year or so on ALL new clients. Because I’m serious about “The right direction, the first time,” it’s important for us to get all the needs. And the only way to do it is to do a needs analysis. Take a look at our process for selection of ERP software.

SPAM from email and websites

I was just going to put up a quick post about anti-spam list non-profit Spamhaus being ordered to pay $11.7 million in damages. Spamhaus publishes a list of sites known to produce Spam, which anti-SPAM software programs use to block Spam from these sites. Seems they included e360insight’s address in their list. This hacked off e360insight, an email marketing company (!?). I leave it to you to determine whether e360insight is a Spammer or not.
Meanwhile, I was reading the article on the InformationWeek site and suddenly I was redirected to a page that played a sort-of video promoting HP blade servers. If I was ever going to buy an HP blade server, I won’t now. Shame on you, InformationWeek. If I wanted to read an ad for HP servers, I know the HP web address. I’d go there. What in the world are you doing?
Oh, here;s the summary of the article from InformationWeek:

A U.S. District Court judge ordered anti-spam organization Spamhaus to pay $11.7 million in damages against an e-mail marketing company. The U.K.-based Spamhaus said the U.S. court had no jurisdiction, and ignored it. Now, anti-spam advocates worry that the judge might order ICANN to eliminate the Spamhaus domain.

U.S. Court Order Could Boost Spam By 50 Billion Daily – News by InformationWeek

FireFox RC2…One Step Forward…One Step Back

FireFox has become a popular browser. Release Candidate 2 is out. A release candidate is a step beyond a Beta, and indicates a product version that will be the final release unless something major is discovered before the product is released to manufacturing.
Firefox 2.0 has been touted as a “must install” release by some. E-week’s test of RC2 finds good and bad.
I’ll probably wait until the final copy comes out.
Firefox 2.0 RC2 Is a Step … Backward?

Installing Vista

I got the Windows Vista RC downloaded (all 3+ Gb of it). I burned it to a DVD, then backed up the XP operating system I was working on. The machine has an AMD 64-bit dual core with 2Gb of RAM and a 250 Gb hard drive, as well as DVD RW, video card, Network Adapter, and monitor. The machine was new, and the only thing I had used it for was to download Vista and burn it to the DVD. The machine was supposedly ready for Vista, but if you read the verbiage on the Microsoft site, until the actual release of Vista, anything could happen.
The machine booted from the DVD and asked if I wanted to install Vista. Since I chose to install the 64 bit version of Vista, keeping the 32 bit version of XP that had been installed on the machine wasn’t an option. I deleted the XP partition and reformatted the hard drive. This process was much smoother than the same process in XP, and the graphical user interface appeared with mouse support earlier in the process of Vista installation than it does in the XP installation. When you install XP, there are several character based screens you navigate through before you get to the familiar Windows look and feel. With Vista, you’re looking at a graphical user interface almost from the beginning.
Vista then asked the familiar questions about time and time zone, keyboard layout and language, and how I wanted to configure my internet access. There are fewer questions in the Vista installation than the XP installation. The process, however, has a slow point when all of the Vista programs are copied to the hard drive and decompressed. This seems much longer than the XP process which presents the time remaining on a sidebar with a changing screen that sells the new features of XP. This type of entertainment may appear in the final release of Vista, but the waiting screen is pretty plain in the release candidate.
The install went well. Vista found drivers for all of my devices, set the resolution of my screen properly, and launched itself. Office 2007 installed well, and the machine is performing well. The Aero Glass interface has some interesting features (be sure to try the Windows Button + Tab combination [similar to Alt + Tab, but much prettier]).
I noticed that Microsoft had heard the critique that you had to press the Start Button to Shut Down. The familiar green Start button has disappeared. In its place is a 3-d look button with a graphic. It doesn’t have a label, so everyone just seems to be calling it the–you guessed it–start button.
I haven’t had enough time to play with Vista to give an opinion one way or another yet, but it’s worth a look. I don’t think I would deploy a release candidate in production work…and there are several security vendors harassing Microsoft about the weaknesses in the product. In this case, I think time will tell.