Archive for the 'Vista' category

Can’t create Notes in HP TouchSmart? Check your user account name

August 31, 2009 8:25 pm

Several users of the HP TouchSmart software suite have reported that they are unable to create certain kinds of notes in the HP TouchSmart notes program. I had an opportunity to investigate this issue today on an actual customer unit. The investigation details, while quite interesting to some, shall remain for some future post, perhaps. Here’s the conclusion:

If the user account you’ve created contains the ampersand character (aka. “and” symbol: &), the Notes application can’t save the “sticky” note kind. To-Do list notes are not affected by this problem.

The symptom is that you draw on the sticky note and then tap the Done button. Now the Done button will gray out, but the note won’t be saved and the creation surface won’t disappear. Only a tap on the Cancel button will make the creation surface go away (and without saving the note).

A workaround, if you want to use that Note feature, is to create a new user account that does not contain the ampersand (&) symbol. Renaming the user account is not enough, since the initial creation sets up certain things that can’t be changed later on. (After creating the new account, most of the user data needs to be copied from the old account to the new account so documents, pictures, etc. are available under the new account. For example everything from “c:\users\old&problem” needs to go to “c:\users\new-no-problem”.)

Until a proper fix can be developed and published, this is the only known workaround, unfortunately.

Word 2007 and Vista Speech Recognition – don’t say "delete document"!

December 10, 2008 8:35 pm

I had a very unpleasant experience today. My wife is trying to deal with pain in her arms and hands from too much typing by using Vista’s speech recognition feature along with Word 2007. She was writing a final paper for a college class and had just finished the last four of nine pages. That’s when she noticed an extra word in her paper, right at the end: “document”. It didn’t belong there, so she did what you’d do naturally and said “delete document”.

THAT’S WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPENED. Apparently the speech recognition software turned that phrase into a command and proceeded to empty the nine page paper of all content without hesitation. On top of that, the undo feature of Word seemed to not have noticed the command (or been bypassed somehow), so she couldn’t get the document back via undo either!

This all happened while I was in a meeting at work right before lunch. When I got back to my desk I had several panicked voice messages. Luckily, five pages from the day before could be salvaged because my wife had the presence of mind to close the document without saving, which let her recover all but the about four hours of work that had gone in before the disaster struck.

I went home over lunch to see if I could salvage any more. I decided that I needed support from Microsoft. Well, the call with Microsoft Product Support was less than pleasant (as support calls usually are) and didn’t get us the four pages back, either. Best I could tell nobody had ever reported such an issue before.

I’m surprised this glaring problem escaped all testing at Microsoft. One of the cardinal rules of software development was violated in this case: “Never, EVER, lose the user’s data.” I can’t believe there was no prompt to confirm if she really intended to delete everything in response to the phrase “delete document”. I can’t believe there was no undo possible.

I just can’t believe it. Yet, it’s true.

HP TouchSmart software update: Touch Optimizer

November 20, 2008 11:06 pm

Lots of people find that once they’re outside the touch optimized environment that the HP TouchSmart software provides, things in Vista are not all that easy to use with touch.

This is something we addressed with what we called a “Touch Optimizer” on the IQ770 (our first TouchSmart series). On the IQ500 series we initially left this program out of the factory configuration (the reasons would bore you, trust me.) Now we’ve brought it back as an update that you can get at the HP Support website:

This utility will increase several “non-client metrics”, as they’re called in Windows developer lingo, to sizes that make things easier to hit with your finger. If I remember correctly, the tool increases scrollbar, close/minimize/maximize buttons and taskbar quicklaunch icon sizes. It also turns on single click for desktop icons so you don’t have to double-tap to launch programs from the desktop anymore.

Until Windows 7 arrives with better integrated touch in the whole OS, try this tool and see if it doesn’t get you 60% of the way there. Maybe even 80%.

Steven Sinofsky’s Vista UAC discussion at PDC 2008

November 14, 2008 10:36 am

One thing I haven’t written about yet is my impression of a few moments in Steven Sinofsky’s PDC 2008 keynote. It was when he talked about User Account Control. UAC was not well received when it was put in Vista, to put it mildly.

At around 45 minutes in the keynote, Steven mentions UAC and, as far as I can tell, pauses deliberately for a second or two to get an audience reaction. If you weren’t in the room at the time, it’s hard to tell, but there was a collective groan and some chuckling at that point.

I think it’s the closest attempt at trying to apologize for a design blunder I’ve ever seen Microsoft make, albeit without words. I found it to be a brave move for someone like Steven to make, and I wager that it put a more human face on the large, often faceless corporation that is Microsoft. It certainly did for me.

If nothing else it gave me the impression that there is someone at the helm of Windows development who is not afraid of acknowledging when things go wrong and who will try to make up for it. I find that very refreshing.