Crazy lady wanted. Apply within

I was pointed to a spin-off of a lonely hearts ad today.

It made me smile. I think that it’s fair to say that we’ve all felt like that once in a while. Mine would be slightly different. Something along the lines of “I need a sociopathic woman to string me along until I’m completely besotted, and then plunge the knife in by telling me that you thought I was actually David Tennant.

“Once you’ve completely consumed my living soul like the succubus that I hope you are, you’ll be happy to toy with my feelings by insisting on remaining in my life as a friend, leaving me unable to move on and pick up the pieces.

“If you can spare the time, I’d appreciate it if you could do any of the following:

  • Make fun of my inadequate lovemaking
  • Start a website and/or blog dedicated to how pathetic I am
  • Tell any women who may show a vague interest in me that I am gay, and have buttocks all over my body

“I hope that this can be the start of our beautiful relationship together.”

Of course, as I typed this – I couldn’t help but think of that episode of The IT Crowd, 50/50 where Moss does the internet dating thing: “I’m an arse…”

Office 2007 Deployment Computer Startup Scripts

Now that MS Office 2007 is doing the rounds, I suppose it’s time to lookat some of its shortcomings.

It has a few when it comes to deployment. The biggest nuisance being deployment.

You have four options:

  • Install it on a PC manually (not great)
  • Deploy through group policy with no customisations
  • Use a deployment system such as SMS
  • Use a computer startup script

You may as well just say “no” to the first one. Anything more than a handful of PCs and you have a tedious task.

Group Policy has always been my method of choice. Most of my clients have less than 100 PCs, so Group Policy deployment is ideal. But as pointed out in the list, you cannot customise the installation with any defaults.

SMS is out. It’s not worth explaining to clients why it’s a good idea to buy software that makes my life easier. Even though the effort and management might simplify things somewhat.

So we’re stuck with computer startup scripts. Another method I hate – but if you want to control Office Deployments, then this is the way to do it. Thankfully, Aaron Parker has posted some startup scripts to help with this using the MSP method.

If you are using a network with WSUS, then updates become a non-issue, and I think that the only time to need to redeploy is if you decide to change the application packages that you want. At which point, you could check that executables of the programs exist or record your own registry entries that you can check for.

It’s not a great method (I’ve managed to avoid having to use ANY computer startup scripts in 2000-based networks) – but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work. Especially if you make sure to use the quiet options in the Setup /admin tool.

Office, eh?

Active Desktop, I barely knew ye

Windows Vista. It’s big, bad and insists its new technologies upon unsuspecting users while not actually working quite right.

The Vista Sidebar is one such culprint. Ever since the early previews of Vista (aka Longhorn), there was a giant box hanging around the desktop on the right side that had a giant clock in it.

Of course, that has now become sidebar gadgets – which can live on your desktop.

It’s a poor tradeoff though. We’ve lost Active Desktop.

Foisted upon an unsuspecting user base. Active Desktop was pitched as a portal to an always-on internet with IE4 or Windows 98. The fact that barely anyone had an always-on internet connection seemed irrelevant. But you could put loads of webpages in little windows on your desktop, or just replace your wallpaper with a web page or HTML page.

Until recently, I’ve found this pointless – but for networks running an intranet such as Sharepoint, it’s the perfect solution. A user logs on, and on their desktop appears the site’s intranet. At a single glance you have all the information you need from your intranet. If you click on a click, a new IE window opens, and you carry on from there. Simple, and very effective.

Vista comes along and as surprisingly AD was put into Windows, it was taken away again. Gone forever (probably). Now, considering how much old Windows fluff is still hanging around in Vista (old Font dialog box, anyone?) it seems that this is a bit of an own goal on Microsoft’s front.

The suggestion now is that I have to write desktop gadgets to do the same jobs as a webpage would. And to make matters worse (and here’s the kicker), Desktop Gadgets does not support roaming profiles! So you move from one computer to another, and the sidebar smugly sits there with its clock, photo slideshow and newsfeeder. So even if I did make those gadgets, they would currently be about as much use as a Dell laptop battery.

Fantastic! So for network administrators – there is now no native way to access an intranet or any other application service with a user specifically going there. And I can really see illiterate computer users making sure that they start IE and go to the intranet when they log in. Yeah, right!

Thank you Microsoft, good night!

Xerox Phaser drivers print very dark in Vista

I was having a great deal of trouble installing printer drivers in Vista for the Xerox Phaser 6100.

Online, Xerox say that the XP drivers wok fine in Vista, so use them until the new drivers come out. I’ve spent two hours trying the get the badger to work.

And what was it in the end? Stupid driver defaults!

  • Right-click on the printer
  • Click run as administrator
  • Click properties
  • Clear any UAC prompts
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Click ‘Printing Defaults…’
  • Click Graphics
  • Click ‘Adjust Color’
  • Click ‘reset’
  • Keep pressing OK until the windows are cleared

Now send a print job! That’s it. Really!

Simple Podcast XML Generator

I’m always up for lazy tools. And as Jason has been asking me about podcasting, I thought I’d have a go over at my ‘tool’ website.

A simple record with Audacity followed by a visit to the podcast RSS Feed generator and I was away within minutes.

I joked with Jason that we should do one together. A mix of education, IT and poker. Hey, maybe it could be called PokITation! You never know…

Life’s good. Now the only thing to consider is: “What should my podcast be about?”

Maybe I’ll just let Jason do it and pretend I’m taking part – that seems to be a much simpler way of podcasting.