Posts Tagged ‘General Software’


As I mentioned in a post last week, I am less inclined these days to install the latest and greatest of every piece of software I use. To me, a lot of software manufacturers have moved their products into a perpetual beta. While I understand the need to move things to market quicker and be first with new innovations, in general it seems to me software is pushed too fast and users suffer the consequences. I am sort of burned out in this respect, and don’t have time to spend finding the problems. I am in the part of the cycle where I can watch others move out into the waters before I do for most software updates.

Upfront, I can state that Firefox has been my primary browser for the last few years. I rarely use IE7 except for the frequent visits to I like it. The only issues I have is the latest build locks up on me as I am surfing (likely a conflict with an add-on), and it is a memory hog. Both issues are allegedly fixed in the newest release.

I downloaded Firefox 3 during the download fest to set the Guinness Book of World Records. I hope they get the record, even if I am not sure how it is really measured.

I have not installed it yet. I was thinking about it, but everything I have read is polarized from its great, to it sucks. Not much in the middle. Performance is terrific, performance stinks. Fast rendering, slower rendering. Interface rocks, to what the heck did they do to the icons. Address bar features are cool, address bar features make it unusable. Some will never look back, some have uninstalled and moved back to 2.0.

Across the board. Blogs, Twitter, emails from friends and customers, and expert analysis. Polarized.

I likely will take some time in the next week to load it in a virtual machine. No sense in hosing up the production box. What are your experiences? Like it? Hate it? Sitting on the fence and watching the game like me?



I know the rage is to be talking about our Office 2007 experiences, but I have not had the time to load it and get use to the new ribbon control, and find where Microsoft moved all the features. I am still using Office 2003. For the last few weeks I have been battling a bug on and off and last night I decided to see if I could find the fix. (I know – how exciting are my Saturday nights? {g})

The problem is annoying. Ever since I changed my login on my machine to my new domain all the office apps for the new user no longer have the most recently opened files on the File menu. Naturally I looked at the setting on the Tools | Options dialog to turn it on and bump up the number of files it shows to the maximum limit (nine – which is too small), but the checkbox is disabled! I looked all over the Help file and checked for some compatibility settings without any luck.

A Google search lead me to a Web site called, which sounds appropriate for this problem. The problem is documented for Office XP, but apparently the problem still exists in Office 2003 (and maybe even in Office 2007). The fix is simple as long as you are not afraid to mess with the Windows Registry. Here are the instructions I followed:

  • Run the Registry Editor (REGEDIT.EXE).
  • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Policies\ Explorer.
  • On the right side, delete the NoRecentDocsHistory value.
  • Close the Registry Editor when you’re done; the change will take affect the next time you start any Office XP application.

I exported the key just in case it created side effects and deleted it from the Registry. Bingo, the option can be turned on again in the Options dialog and all is well again in the world of Microsoft Office.

I also found a feature to export your office settings so I can save a bunch of time when moving to a new machine or a new user on the same machine. Microsoft has a program included with Office 2003 called the Microsoft Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard. I have been using Microsoft Office for more than 10 years, but this is new to me. I am positive it could have saved me hours of my life going through and setting all the options for Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, OneNote, and Publisher. The wizard has two modes, one to export the settings and one to import them. It creates a file on disk with the OPS extension. This file can be moved to the new machine or put in a common folder on the same machine for the other user to use. Brilliant.

If you are looking for this wizard you can find it on the Start Menu | Programs | Microsoft Office (where ever you have this) | Microsoft Office Tools | Microsoft Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard. I obviously have not paid much attention to the tools menu, but this is one important little program and is not easily discoverable in my opinion. I think this should exposed on the Options dialog in each of the Office applications where people like me would see it and think to use it.

The MS Office Help file was not helpful at all in regards to discovering either the fix for the File menu or the settings wizard. In fact, I put “Microsoft Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard” in the MS Word Help search and the first three topics returned are links to:

  • The Perfect PC Office Suite: Get Microsoft Office 2003 on a P4 2.6GHz system (Web content marketing slime)
  • Save an Office document as a TIFF file
  • What happened to the Office Shortcut Bar?

Nothing returned in the list was even close to being related to the wizard. Is it just me, or is the Office Help nearly useless to the average user?

I blogged these two recent findings here mostly to have them documented for myself in the future (they were also added to the White Light Computing Wiki for safe keeping), but also to share them with you in case either of them can save you a few moments of your life down the road.


I installed FeedDemon v2.1 over the weekend (glad to be out of the no-installs conference season {g}) and can tell you my favorite new feature is the way it highlights words in Watches.

If you are using FeedDemon and are using feed watches you probably already like how you can set up a watch to check incoming feeds to look for keywords. For instance, I have a watch to check for the titles of the books I have co-authored so I can see when someone mentions it in a blog or posts a message with it on the F1 Technologies forum,, the MSDN VFP Forum, VFPx site, or the West-Wind Message Board (all RSS enabled sites). I have a half dozen Watches set up to alert me of different things.

In previous versions of FeedDemon I would have to search for the keyword(s) that triggered the feed post, but now Nick Bradbury is highlighting the word in yellow so I can instantly see it! This feature has been in other products like Copernic 2001 (global Web searching product) and in Adobe Acrobat for years, so having it here in FeedDemon is not exactly ground breaking, but it is another real time saver for me.

I also like how the newspaper views only show the new postings. This initially may not sound like a big deal, but it sure saves on time downloading images from the site. I get my daily dose of Dilbert via RSS and now the only images downloaded are the new strips I have not read.

Thanks Nick for this great product and the slew of new features you added in the latest update.


I use FireFox as my primary Web browser and really like it. That said, I also use Internet Explorer (especially for Microsoft sites), and occasionally Opera too. I test Web sites I work on with all the browsers to ensure as much compatibility as possible. That said, I am not in the business of beta testing any of them. I just don’t have the time. I have been reading about the “enhancements” of both IE7 and FireFox 2.0 as much as I can to stay on top of things, but I am not doing as well with this and anticipate a few surprises in my future.

A couple of weeks ago at Southwest Fox I learned a bunch of things about IE7 from Rick Borup. His session got me excited about some of the changes and new features. So I have been looking forward to the automatic update about to hit my machine. Then I accidentally ran across a blog from one of my technical partners about how IE7 breaks QuickBooks Pro. No email from Intuit (they hit me up with lots of offers to upgrade, but I guess this little detail was not that important, or I seriously overlooked it).

I use QuickBooks Pro to manage the accounting books here at White Light Computing. I have used this product for years to keep track of the hours I bill, invoicing, tracking accounts receivables, printing checks to my vendors and subcontractors, and reporting the financials to my wife and our accountant. I use this program all the time. It is almost as important to me on the administrative side of the business as Visual FoxPro is to the technical side of the business.

So I was surprised to read how it is broken with IE7. I know it uses the Internet Explorer control inside of it, but for some reason it did not even cross my mind that the Internet Explorer update would break it. All it does is render HTML for cripes sake. I have read how it is going to “break”, or better said, is not going to be as forgiving as it has been in the past. Cool, but not cool.

Fortunately I can upgrade to the latest version of QuickBooks. I have not done this in a couple of years and really have not been compelled to upgrade based on features. So now Intuit is going to make a ton of money because Microsoft “broke” their application. Not a good business model from my perspective, but I see how they cannot be expected to upgrade me for free. This is a perfect example of DLL Hell, or ActiveX versioning hell. I am sure there are Web developers who are rejoicing on all the new business they will have because they did not respect standards when creating the sites.

I cannot upgrade for another couple of weeks because I am speaking at the German DevCon in a week and have this no new software upgrade policy two weeks before the conference. So now I have to be extra careful not load the Microsoft update about to hit my machine.

One of my clients recently implemented the Microsoft IE7 Blocker Toolkit because IE7 breaks one of the Web apps purchased from another company. I talked to a network specialist today and he recommends it to everyone who cannot load IE7. It adds a registry entry that stops the Windows Update from installing IE7 if you have Automatic Updates turned on, or you select the “Express” setup when you start the updates that were downloaded for you. It does not stop you from installing IE7 on your own. Read the Microsoft site I linked above if you want more details.
I added the registry entry as an insurance policy and have decided to leave this machine IE7-free. I have a new laptop I am in the process of loading up (another series of future blog entries) and will put the new version of QuickBooks on it with IE7 and FireFox 2.0.

Maybe a few of my readers are in the same boat as I am, and you will be saved the grief dumped on us by innocently loading the latest and greatest version of Internet Explorer.