Friday, June 27, 2008

Poor Bill

I feel your pain Bill. Every Microsoft user knows it. It would be wrong
to suggest it is just Windows that is the heart of the problem, I think
the disease spread through Microsoft and infected all their products a
long time ago. I think you will enjoy using Ubuntu in your new non MS life.

I have to credit for leaking this email from bill, I have
copied it here as it is so poignant. Enjoy.

*From*: Bill Gates
*Sent:* Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
*To:* Jim Allchin
*Cc:* Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will
Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going
backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ...
so I went to They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring
up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like:
C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things
are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in
movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker
download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something
was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie
maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of
waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me
to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere
else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to
download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times
where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was
critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but
instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST
possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an
install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't
use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy.
This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot
every night — why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant
completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Updale again. I
forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to
get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I
have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that?
Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch
of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes
many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things
like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do.
I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove
programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate
Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package,
Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate
testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable?
The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable.
This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things
like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is
Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the
patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for
more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I
have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing
things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list
garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible
website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences
blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network
places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you
just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

When Seattle Pi recently asked Gates about the email, he replied,
"There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail ... like that
piece of e-mail."

So Bill, or anyone suffering the indignity that is MS just go here and with a couple of simple clicks of your
mouse you can install Ubuntu from within windows into its own little
space with no harm to windows or your stuff. I can't promise it will all
work perfectly for you the first time, or that there won't be some sort
of learning curve for anyone confronted with a new OS. I can promise
though that is free and that every new version gets better and more
useful. After thinking about it now I think that the best thing to ever
happen for Linux is MS, I bet that's where 90% of new Linux users escape
from. Oh and by the way Linux now has great working alternatives to
pretty much all the MS software, there is NO LONGER a reason to buy
Windows just so you can work with MS Office documents.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mixed Emotions

I made it to Perth. I have had something to eat and I am in a motel room
near the airport. It has been quite a mixed day, where do I begin. The
starter motor arrived and it was easily fitted by me and it worked as
advertised. This solved the major problem and enabled me to move the
caravan into storage and get myself to Learmonth Airport in time for my
flight to Perth. Learmonth is a laughably small airport, they get a
couple of jets a day and a couple of helicopters. I have done circuits
there in the Trike and whilst it is a huge expanse of concrete and
impressive from the air, its not very exciting at the terminal shed.
Unbeknownst to any rational human beings left though, it is obviously
the heartland for the filthy terrorists as is only too obvious when you
look at the airport and see that there are 2 people working in the bar,
3 looking after the baggage, check-in, aircraft and passengers and a
totally insane 6 security staff. The security staff were made up of the
usual type, too old to retrain for a skilful job and too old to work at
McDonald's or too young to interested in a career, and so they stand
around the high tech security equipment trying to intimidate the
passengers and justify their positions. Lets face it, these are not the
sort of people that guard the president or anything important, if there
really was a credible threat then planes would be blowing up left right
and center and people would be stabbing fellow passengers and staff on
every flight with the toothpicks and pens that they smuggled on board.
These security people are useless and only serve two purposes, firstly
so that the powers that be can point to some practical thing that they
are doing somewhere, because lets face it neither the foreign policy or
the applied security procedures are actually likely to do anything to
reduce the likelihood of aviation targeted terrorist attacks and second
so that when the inevitable (and not preventable with this kind of
useless security) attack takes place they powers that be can blame it on
the security staff on duty.

I have travelled allot around the world with my laptop and its leather
briefcase in the last 15 years, actually there have been several laptops
and briefcases. In the early days I used to carry a forever useful set
of jewellers screwdrivers and a small pocket knife with me but I got
sick of having them confiscated on the roughly 50% of occasions that
they were discovered. I have lost count of the times when they
confiscated a small screwdriver from me in Perth Airport and then as we
are served lunch less than an hour later on the flight I am given a full
compliment of metal cutlery, it makes me want to cry that humanity is so
stupid that we engage in this sort of behaviour.

Today I was travelling from Exmouth to Perth on a SkyWest Jet with 2
small pieces of hand luggage, my laptop in a leather laptop bag and a
small canvas bag with some clothes and some shells and fossils I
collected in it. Neither item weighs more than 7KG and they would both
fit into the overhead lockers just fine, I know because I have done it
on many occasions. First I was told that my laptop was too heavy to take
inside the plane, I was solemnly told it was dangerous because of its
weight and had to be checked into the hold. I was a little surprised as
this is a new one for me, I though that for example a brick was a weapon
because it could be used as a primitive bludgeoning tool and we all know
about the many stories of planes being hijacked by brick wielding , er
brickmen I suppose and how so many banks have been robbed and the
general loss of innocent lives lost on account of bricks, but laptops,
sorry I missed that one. So too stunned to argue I allowed a fragile
sticker to be placed on my laptop bag and I watched it loaded onto the
cart with all the suitcases with some trepidations. In my experience a
fragile sticker is often misinterpreted as "makes a cool tinkling noise
when dropped" by illiterate baggage handlers, but I digress. To be fair
the Skywest check-in guy did tell me it would be placed on the top of
the heap gently, when my fingers were slow to release the bags handle as
I passed it over the counter.
I needed a drink at this point so carrying only the tiny little canvas
shoulder bag I had a beer in the bar before passing through security
when they called the flight for boarding. Security made me remove my
belt and put everything I had though the X-ray machine. I was reading a
paperback book and I was careless enough to walk though the scanner with
the book in my hand!. There was no beep as I had nothing metallic on me,
but I was barred entry on account of the paperback I was holding. As far
as the security staff were concerned it could have been dangerous, so I
invited them to have a look at the book, and not to fear it, but they
sent me back out and made me place the book on the X-ray machine by
itself so it could be irradiated for the betterment of humanity.
Seriously, I know books have long words in them but they really are not
scary or dangerous.
I was just mildly irritated at this point when an old female who should
not be working with people asked me what was in my bag as she handed it
back to me, I mentioned shells and clothes and fossils. She made me
empty the bag and seemed to take delight in identifying the larger items
as prohibited by federal law and not going with me. To be completely
honest it never occurred to me that if I turned up with a fossil of a 3
million year old sea creature inside a lump of limestone the size of an
orange that it was going to label me a threat to society, I pointed this
out. To no avail, it was a rock, it was a blunt instrument, it could be
used as a weapon. It was starting to occur to me that it could indeed me
deployed against the head of a security guard in an airport but I would
be worried about being allowed to board the plane and more worried about
damaging a perfectly preserved example of life before security guards
I was so calm and rational and I pleaded for them to let me on the plane
with my bag. No way. Leave it here with us and we will dispose of it or
keep it and don't board the flight were my only options. I could see
them loading the baggage onto the plane just beyond the gate and I knew
that once the manifest was done and the doors closed they were not
allowed to put anything else into the hold of the aircraft. I begged the
security staff to ask a member of the airline staff to put my bag in the
hold before they completed loading, they would not help.
In the end once all the bags were loaded and the passengers boarding I
finally got hold of one of the check-in staff and asked if they could
put my bag in the hold and was told it was now impossible as the
manifest was done and the doors closed. I knew this was coming and was
past believing that things were going to go my way, I can understand how
putting things onto a plane but not recording them is an obvious
security threat and like most people when faced with a rational argument
did not feel entitled to argue the point. I was told to write down my
address in Perth on a bit of paper and it would be sent down as
unattended baggage the next day. I was just writing down Perth
International Airport and my flight number of the next day and starting
to explain the situation when a female SkyWest employee emerged from an
office behind the counter and asked how much the bag weighed, it was
duly weighed and found to be just over 7KG. Perhaps in the hope that It
would illicit a marriage proposal from me she instructed her obviously
subordinate employee to load the bag onto the aircraft despite his
protests about hatches and manifests. I could have jumped over the
counter and hugged her, but I know inappropriate behaviour and so
restrained myself to just a heartfelt thanks. It was a victory for
sanity over insanity and it was a clear example of why we need
management around to make those difficult decisions.
On my way through security with no hand luggage the security staff
seemed pleased with their work, I heard the old female say "he said he
only had shells!" as I approached and you could see that the highlight
of her day, or possibly week was preventing a would be terrorist like me
from carrying out my terrible plan to transport a small fossil by air.
I guess my looks must have been pretty dirty because I got a unified
chorus of "We don't make the rules" and "It's federal Law" and "I'm just
doing my job" as I passed through. I couldn't resist looking
thoughtfully at my very heavily buckled trouser belt as they passed it
back to me and asking if they were sure that it couldn't be used as a
weapon because I felt that if it was a small fossil versus a heavy
buckled leather belt the later was probably the more dangerous weapon,
but not having been to security guard school I was unfamiliar with their
perverse brand of logic and so would defer to their educated opinion.
The final comment from the last guard was that they did not choose the
rules and my reply was that they choose how to enforce them and my issue
was never with the law, my issue was with the wholly inconsistent and
subjective manner that each different security guard chooses to
interpret them.
The flight was fine and despite being down a crew member the cabin staff
performed admirably and in spite of the last minute flight cancellation
and the extra hassle for me as a result I am not upset with SkyWest at
the end of the day.
Tomorrow I am a guest of Malaysian airlines and I will be sure to make
sure that anything even remotely dangerous is checked in, even my reach
toothbrush, which would no doubt be classified as a weapon after the
operation needed to remove it from the backside of a well deserving
security guard.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Starter arrived and fitted and working. Sounds and looks like a cheap
Chinese copy, but that would be in-line with expectations. Just about to
move caravan into storage and then its bye bye Exmouth... I wonder what
Skywest define as dinner, I find out in a few hours time....

Monday, June 23, 2008

So I went for a walk on the beach.

And why not enjoy it on my penultimate day in Exmouth, as an enforced
pedestrian until my new starter motor arrives tomorrow. I enjoyed the
cool breeze and the warm kiss of the sun on my exposed skin and was very
relaxed and at peace with the world when I returned to my caravan to
find I had a missed call. It turns out that skywest have decided to
cancel my flight on the morning of the 25th that would have got me into
Perth in time for my international flight to London but helpfully put me
on one that arrives just after my international flight has left on its
way to Kuala Lumpur. Not good. They cheerfully offered me a refund but
I needed a solution and the only one available was the flight on the
evening of the 24th so I get to spend an extra night in Perth and one
less in Exmouth. Tomorrow needs to go according to plan now ;-)

Auto Pro Exmouth Save the day.

I had a bad experience at a Perth Auto Pro once, it was one of those
occasions where he looked like he knew what he was talking about and he
even made a convincing argument but he gave a me a really bum steer that
cost me time and money. Every time since that I see that logo I think
dark thoughts, I guess that's the danger of a franchise/chain type of
operation. It was with mild trepidation that I went into the Exmouth
Auto Pro looking for a replacement starter. At the time I had removed
and tested the old starter and diagnosed the problem as being that the
gear was not engaging due to the fact that it was obviously worn out and
broken in that order. I supplied V.I.N's and Engine No's and Gearbox
Numbers and Model Numbers and even left the original starter on the
counter with my mobile number.
It was then that I rang Subaru and got my shock.
Then my phone rings and Auto Pro tell me it will be here by 10.30am
tomorrow as it is coming overnight from Perth for $388. Wow again.

Perhaps it is the availability of low cost after market parts that is
the reason that the main dealers don't bother to keep them any more?

My original Subaru (But badged Mitsubishi actually) starter motor lasted
250,000kms , if the new one does that again for $388 its a bargain.

I'm flying out of Oz the day after tomorrow so the timing is critical as

Subaru WTF?

I just rang Subaru in Osborne park and tried to get a new starter motor
for my 8/99 Subaru Outback.
My call was promptly answered and I got asked the cars V.I.N. as usual
and after a short wait I get told that the new starter motor is $1024, I
am already a bit shocked at the price, but wait there's more.
In the same breath the lady tells me that it will take 4 weeks to get
one as they are Ex Japan and she won't order it unless I pay for it first.
Wow. I thought it was just Toyota that didn't care in Perth. I am
guessing this must have something to do with the huge motoring groups
that have a stranglehold on the market here, no fair competition = bad
for consumer every time.
Get this, when I suggested that maybe it was unreasonable to ask their
late model car owning customers to not drive for 4 weeks because they
had no stock of common, small, low cost replacement parts locally, the
response was to try the wreckers!
Try the wreckers, cos we don't care.
When I suggested that was not really good enough and how could they
really not have any starter motors for a manual EJ25 based engine
anywhere in Australia she transferred me to a bloke that told me the
same thing without any willingness to debate the issue.

Nope its definitely got nothing to do with the car marque, its the Perth
main dealers that are completely useless.

By now you surely must have realised that my starter motor died yesterday.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Winter Arrived

Wow, after only seeing perfect weather here in Exmouth, today the skies
opened up and now the vibe is cool and muddy here in the caravan park.
My triking is going great, I flew down to Learmonth for some touch and
go's on the huge runway the other day and it was fun.
It looks like cooler weather ahead, I hope not for too long, already I
miss the sun!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sunset at the Hanger

IMGP3950, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Every day here ends with a magnificent sunset. Often I am at the hanger enjoying a beer with Gav after a hard days flying ;-)

Victorious Gav

IMGP3905, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Gav makes it look too easy and I feel sorry for the fish. Crazy huh. I got the whole thing on film and it was like swim down, stare into the eyes of 3 huge fish, decide 2 were too big, point the speargun at the smaller one and pull the trigger. We both saw a large shark but whilst that might be unusual in a swimming pool its pretty normal here.

The view East

IMGP3947, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Bridge from afar

IMGP3948, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Here is the new bridge from out at sea. Gav took me spear fishing. It was warm and windless and the water was very calm.