Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Microsoft Propaganda Convention 2007

So today I went to the Microsoft "Ready for a New Day" launch convention. It was interesting, I got to see some cool features of Vista & Office 2007. From a development standpoint, I think the new Windows Presentation Foundation stuff is pretty interesting and will turn out to be more than hype. From a user's perspective, I think Office 2007 will make it a lot easier to make nice-looking documents/presentations/what-have-yous, and the side-effects of that will be the extra effort that professional "make-it-pretty" types will have to show the "it's-3d-so-it's-pretty" types why they spent all that time in school learning how to make it pretty.

All in all, it's a good thing. But that's Office.

Windows....ah, Windows. I was amused to no end when I saw that the most hyped thing about Windows in the keynote address was the highly improved search functionality of Windows. Don't get me wrong, I think it'll be fantastic. But I was amused that the keynote speaker was talking about the newfound ability to click the Start button, then type "calc" and as you type it narrows down the search results until it shows you the application you want.

So...yeah. Launching applications in Windows just went back to a command-line paradigm. I found that absolutely hilarious. (Of course, I've had my Start Menu optimized since the early days of Windows 95. Here, let me give you a breakdown of my Start menu's contents.)

  • Start
    • Programs
      • Applications
        • ASUS Probe
        • C++ Builder
        • Dia
        • Eclipse
        • E-Sword
        • Force 2.0
        • Microsoft Virtual PC
        • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
        • Scientific Notebook
        • TI Connect
        • TweakUI
        • Virtual TI
        • VMWare Player
      • Entertainment
        • American McGee's Alice
        • Descent II
        • Diablo II
        • DOSBox
        • Emperor - Battle for Dune
        • Freespace 2
        • Half-Life
        • Half-Life 2
        • Homeworld
        • KotOR 2
        • Outlaws
        • ScummVM
        • Steam
        • UnrealTournament
        • Warcraft III
      • Internet Stuff
        • Filezilla
        • Net Transport
        • PuTTY
        • Serv-U Administrator
        • Skype
        • Trillian
        • Ventrilo
        • Windows Live Messenger
        • Zone Alarm
      • Multimedia
        • VidEditing
          • {various ripping/encoding tools}
        • Audiograbber
        • CloneCD
        • Cool Edit Pro 2
        • ID3-TagIT
        • IrfanView
        • Media Player Classic
        • Picassa
        • PowerDVD
      • Startup
        • {This space intentionally left almost blank}
The point of all this is to show an example of an efficiently laid-out Start menu. How many folders are in the Programs section of your Start menu and contain only one item that you ever use. If you only use the one item, then why have it in a folder? Wouldn't you be better off just moving that one item up a level? That's basically what I did - I organized all of the items that I used into categories. Now if I want to launch (for example) Media Player Classic, I use the following keystrokes (in sequence, not all at once). [Winlogo] [P] [M] [M]

The first pulls up the start menu. The second selects "Programs" and opens the next level of menu. The third opens Multimeda, and the fourth launches Media Player Classic (since it's the only thing in Multimedia that begins with "M").

Personally I still like my system better than Vista's way of doing it, but I've always been one who likes to do march to the beat of a different piccolo.

Anyway, as I write all of this, I've got a virtual machine busy installing Vista. My poor computer's freaking at me because it doesn't have enough RAM to support the VM and do this massive file copy operation I told it to do AND let me post on my blog and work with IM and browse the web in tabs.....

At least I'm nice enough not to be making it play MP3s for me....though I was watching random video clips I found earlier. But I stopped doing that a long time ago.

Anyway, I'll take a few weeks and fiddle with Vista. If I get it working the way I like it, I might just Ghost the VM and install it natively.

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