Posts in category microsoft - page 10

Stupid defaults: Internet Explorer 7

IE7 initial settings dialogSome people just love shipping applications with the stupidest possible default settings.

Internet Explorer 7.0 seems to be just one such application.

If turning on the automatic phishing filter is recommended why does it default to off?

Why does IE7 feel the need to ignore your Windows setting for ClearType and implement it’s own?

If it’s the case that they want more people to use ClearType then how about turn on the setting in Windows?

Finally, my favorite – language which just screams that your language and preference is obviously inferior and you made a mistake.

You should switch to United States at ONCE!

Perhaps they might be able to change it for whilst IE7 is now released and wild at least this configuration page is up on so they could change it there…


Office shortcuts for accented characters on Windows

Many years ago I came across, by accident, a way of entering foreign accented characters into Microsoft Office applications by way of a standard non-accented UK/US keyboard.

Whilst this technique is documented in a few places very few people seem to have come across it.

Press Ctrl and a symbol followed by a letter and it will apply this symbol to the letter if it forms a valid accented character. Some symbols require you press Shift at the same time as Ctrl if you normally need to press Shift to get the symbol (e.g. ^ on via Shift6)

Symbol Name Diacritic Examples
: Colon Umlaut äëïöüÿÄËÏÖÜŸ
^ Caret Circumflex âêîôûÂÊÎÔÛ
Single quote Acute áéíóúðýÁÉÍÓÚÝÐ
` Apostrophe Grave àèìòùÀÈÌÒÙ
, Comma Cedilla çÇ
~ Tilde Tilde ã?õ?ñÃ?Õ?Ñ
Double quote Double acute ????
@ At Ring åÅ
/ Forward slash øØ
& Ampersand æœßÆŒ

For example to get  you would type CtrlShift6 (where ^ lives) then let go of the keyboard and press ShiftA (for A). Voilà!

It sure beats trying to remember Alt-01nn numeric keypad codes or delving into the depths of Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map.


LEGO Star Wars 2 on the Xbox 360

I enjoyed the original LEGO Star Wars back on the PlayStation 2 some time ago. The co-operative play element, the LEGO world combined with the Star Wars world (obviously) and a healthy dose of comedy slapstick that surprised me giving LucasArt’s strict control of the Star Wars universe. But then they let Spaced burn a pile of Star Wars merchandise to official music so maybe they’re not all humorless droids.

LEGO Star Wars 2 on the Xbox 360 (resized)

The original game covered Episodes I-III and so when Steve reminded me LEGO Star Wars II was coming out and would be covering Episodes IV-VI (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) I knew I had to have it. The only question was which format and in the end I bit the bullet and went with the 360 version at £29.99 – a whopping 50% more than the PC version. Thanks Microsoft.

I’ve only played through A New Hope so far but all your favorite moments are there albeit with LEGO’s new take on everything such as the Storm Trooper helmet machines and picking up Death Star crew with a crane and dropping them in a hole for bonuses.

There are some additions over the original too. As well as blowing almost everything in sight up you can now find piles of blocks to assemble into bridges, parts of robots etc. as well as creatures, Luke’s speeder and AT-ST’s to ride around. There are also new dark-force glowing objects to interact with reminding you to come back and play the levels again to unlock all the mini-kit pieces you need to build your own virtual garage of craft from the universe.

If I have one complaint it’s pretty much the one I have in all 3D games… the camera angle.

Often it goes off all over the place and some parts such as controlling the AT-ST is pure infuriating in two player as the camera attempts to follow one of you and slides the other person/their ride around uncontrollably before trapping them in a corner. I’d much rather have seen a split-screen mode or a camera that wasn’t afraid to zoom out more.

Perhaps on LEGO Star Wars III… oh, there’s no more Star Wars left to cast into plastic!

I guess the their trilogy stops here.


MacBook Pro the ultimate developer machine?

I’ve been using my MacBook Pro now for about a month and think it’s the ultimate developer machine. You really are spoiled for choice and everything you might want is at your fingertips.

Mac OS X + Cocoa

Every Mac ships with the Xcode developer tool set. This gives you the native preferred Mac development platform called Cocoa which uses Objective-C at it’s core. The actual tools are based around the GCC 4 compiler and GDB debugger with a rather nice Xcode IDE and Interface Builder GUI designer from it’s NextStep origins.

Out of the box these developer tools include compiling for both Intel and cross-compiling for PowerPC and support C, C++, Objective-C and Java.

Windows + Visual Studio / .NET

Windows is at your fingertips either via Apple’s Boot Camp dual-boot solution or the virtualization through Parallels Workstation 2.1 for OS X or VMware’s forthcoming MacIntel solution. Both virtualization products are helped by Intel’s Core chips having hardware virtualization features.

This gives you the ability to install whatever Windows developer tools you want such as the heavyweight Visual Studio 2005 or freebie Visual Studio 2005 Express C# Edition.

Linux + GCC

While I’m not a fan of Linux these individuals have a live boot Linux CD for the MacBook or you can run Linux under Windows or OS X using your favorite virtual machine.

Mono’s .NET

The Mono project support many platforms but their recommended IDE, MonoDevelop, is still quite far off being able to run on Windows. Either way you can test your app on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

Mac OS X + *nix command-line

It’s no secret that OS X is built on various BSD technologies and Apple include a bunch of the developer tools. For those tools that are missing grab Fink which will let you add everything important that’s missing as well as providing newer updated versions of the tools Apple include.

If what you’re looking for isn’t covered by Fink as default, try switching to the unstable packages. If that fails then try downloading the tarball then ./configure and make.

Mac OS X + X11

Apple provide an X11 implementation as an optional installation with appropriate library headers. Another base covered.

Web development with *AMP

OS X ships with Apache installed as default and you can add the MySQL and PHP elements if you so desire. Then you can choose between LAMP or MacAMP ;-)

Web testing

For testing web applications the Mac has you spoiled for choice.

On OS X you can test in Safari to exert your app against the KHTML+WebKit engine, Firefox or Camino to test compatibility with the Gecko engine, IE for Mac or Opera’s Macintosh offering to name but a few.

Switch to Windows and you’ll have your IE6/IE7 engines at your fingertips as well as checking with the Windows versions of Opera and Firefox.

For running stress or penetration testing Mac OS X means you can get your hands on Nessus, NMap, Snort, Hydra and other Linux based tools.