Friday, December 14, 2007

Things they stole back in Vista

(Originally posted Nov. 25, 2007 - the the list of complaints keeps on growing...)

If this continues, I will have torn all my hair off in pure frustration as to what Microsoft decided I do not need. It turns out that Vista (as in my Vista Business) has taken away several features that I had gotten used to in standard Windows XP. Aaaaargh - this just makes my point as to whether to choose a freely developed OS, with freely available features thrown in (Linux), or yet another time stay with so-called (un)supported licensed software. Enough said, here's my frustration list:

  • Backup is gone! That is, they did add some substitute only good for backing up your whole disk to an external source. What I used to do in XP was backing up a subset of files (my data) to a local file destination, and then took that file and burnt it to a CD for offsite storage. Forget it - the old NTBackup software is gone. I found a good substitute in the free Simply Safe Backup software, but that's beside the point.
  • Telnet is gone! Not too much of an alarm though, I found it under Control Panel-Programs and features-Turn Windows features on or off.
  • Windows Explorer no longer lets you completely turn off the "Remember each folder's view settings" (although the choice is there under Tools-Advanced). When I browse the folder hierarchy, I normally choose to see file details. If Explorer decides to however, it just jumps to thumbnail view, I guess when you enter a folder where graphics files are present. You'll also notice that they took away the "up" button to go one level up the directory tree. You can always go "back" to the previous folder you visited, but that's not always the parent folder. And of course, there's no way to customize the toolbar to bring that button back...
  • The defragmenter has lost the little that was left of its visual interface (it had already suffered the transition from 9x to XP badly). Luckily, there are good third-party tools out there, like the free Defraggler, that shows you where each file is located on the disk and even gives you the option to only defrag the files you need quick access to. With the new "improved" Windows, this is a necessary addon.
Apart from that, I found a couple of tricks to be most necessary to get around:
  • Run as administrator seems to be the general medicine if a program fails to do what you expect it to. Especially programs that access any part of the computer other than your screen/desktop (like registry, folders for programs, network ports etc.). I guess this is part of the new security model requiring you to say that you are sure a dozen times before actually doing what you are sure you want to do.
    • Ethereal Wireshark network packet tracer needs to be run with this option - otherwise you will not find any network adapters to inspect.
    • DevPHP had to be run as administrator to avoid loosing all settings upon exit. Assumingly this has to do with the new way Microsoft has invented to handle writing to the HkeyLocalMachine hive of the registry - where you THINK you write to that key, whileas actually writing to your HkeyCurrentUser hive. This is not comfirmed though.
  • Check out this brilliant website for clues: Vista Rewired -It made it right into my group of favourite bookmarks!
If Microsoft could just do a little bit more than pleasing newbies to Windows (do they?) and let us nerdies also have a few goodies, they might actually have some of us recommend their stuff. As for now, I sincerely hate Windows Vista and recommend everyone (including my customers) who buys a new computer to stick with XP. Vista is just a really bad idea.

View Source with something else than Notepad in Internet Explorer

I'm doing some web development at the time, and since Internet Explorer is the customer's and their customers' preferred web browser, it is a good idea to check how the pages look even in IE (of course, Mozilla Firefox is my own open source preference).

If you want to check the source the browser is actually reading, the IE7's Page-View Source menu item will take you to a Notepad window with the source. I want to look at it in my favorite plain text editor, Notepad++ though, where I can view the code color highlighted. I might even want to clean up what I see so that the source is indented in a readable format, using the TextFX with HTML Tidy option.

So - to my business: How do I change the View Source option to run the text editor I want? Simply by a small registry hack:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\View Source Editor\Editor Name]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\Notepad++\\notepad++.exe\""


Cut and paste this into a .reg file and import to registry (if you are uncertain of how to do that, don't even try - messing with the registry is not for you). Of course, if you want to use another text editor, just change the file path accordingly. If you need to undo this hack, just delete the "View Source Editor" registry key with its full contents.

This is actually just a copy of another blog I found googling for a solution: The Thea Burger's Blog and Will's blog - Thanks for helping me out!