Thursday, September 30, 2004

If anything could be as evil as George Bush, it's this

I'll be honest, I have a little trouble peeing in public restrooms, I tend to get a bit tense. Now apparently I can look forward to walking up to a urinal and having it start speaking to me! Great.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Microsoft doesn't screw up (for once)

Microsoft tends to lag behind its competitors, putting out inferior software
whose presence in the market is mainly the result of Microsoft's
omnipresence. But every once in a while they manage to do things right. It
happenes with Internet Explorer 5, I think, where they finally had a
competitive browser (now eclipsed by Firefox, but apparently adding a couple
of tricks that come with the latest Windows update that could help).

Any way, with Windows 95, Microsoft introduced their new version of the
Windows Media Player, a clunky piece of garbage that looked bad, was poorly
designed and ran like mud, and over the years each consecutive release has
caused me to quickly check and reject it. Now Windows' Media
Player 10
is out, and it's actually pushed Winamp out as my MP3 player
of choice. First off, they've finally got rid of their most annoying flaw,
which was the inability to use the playlist in any sort of normal fashion.
And instead of using up most of the screen with a big black area you can use
for visualizations, if you care about such things, or just the name of the
song huddled in a corner, you can show your library and playlist or a fairly
nice what's playing screen that also shows your playlist.

There are a lot of other nifty features, some of which may have existed
before but went unnoticed because the basic interface was so clunky that I
couldn't be bothered. Like MusicMatch, WMP can look up your MP3s and get
more info on them, so if you just have the artist and the song it can get
album and track info, although this could be tweaked. You can also easily
rate your songs as their playing, so if I do enough of that eventually the
automatic playlist that will play your highest rated songs might come in
handy (you can also ask to hear songs you haven't heard for awhile or even
your least favorite songs). And if you go through your list of artists and see that, for example, you have songs by "Beatles" and songs by "The Beatles" and songs by "Beatles, The", you can just drag one artist to another and it will give them all the same artist name (I think, typical of Microsoft, there is something a little nonstandard about how they use the MP3 info, but nothing that breaks anything).

It still needs some work as a video player, although it has improved. I use the Media Player Classic as much as possible, although it seems to be sluggish with WMV

So, credit where credit is due, Microsoft did a good job. Now if they could
just do something about Outlook (like model it after Entourage, the far
superior mail reader Microsoft developed for the Macintosh) I'd hardly have
any reason to hate them at all, except that they're a big, soul-crushing