Outlook 2007 and Grisoft AVG

A big warning (that I’ve already fallen foul of):

Don’t run Outlook 2007 Beta and the mail scanner of the virus scanner AVG. It wipes your messages – starting with the inbox and working its way through to the archives.

Thankfully I make backups quite regularly, but I’ve still lost a few bits of mail: they really are wiped empty.

You can turn off the E-mail Scanner in AVG by going to the Control Center, double-click Email Scanner then click Disable Plugin.

Many thanks to Beyond-Teck for having the information that led me to this

The Annoyance List

Things that have been pissing me off recently (I feel like a bit of a rant):

  • iTunes for Windows. It steals focus from your other windows, seems to crash all the time and refuses to close if the Store won’t load for whatever reason.
  • The Mars bar advert in Lord of War Region 2 release that you can’t fast forward through. Is the DVD any cheaper in return? Like fudge it is, but they steal 30 seconds of my life every time I want to watch that film.
  • RSS feeds that only show the first few words and make you go to th …. I get why they’re annoying now I’ve started using aggregators.
  • Paper milk cartons. Bloody things are impossible to open properly.
  • Call centres where… how shall we say this…. where English is not the first language. How much does your bank want your continued custom? They want you so much they slash their front-line customer support team and ship it offshore. That’s really saying something.
  • Unnecessarily noisy cars. I get a hole in my exhaust sometimes, it’s not nice and I go to the garage to get it fixed. Some people make their car sound that way.
  • Trackbacks mixed in with comments. So very unhelpful.

There we are. Much better 🙂

Free Utilities

Some websites are just useful.

Recently I’ve had a need to watch file resources. I wanted to know why my hard disk was perpetually active (thinking the worst: a virus). Then I remembered a useful utility on a website called Sysinternals.com – it’s called Filemon and lists disk activity in real time (which processes are opening which files; it’s quite interesting in a sad way).

Sysinternals.com has a load of other freeware goodies, all for looking after your computer. As of this evening, Sysinternals looks like it’s been taken over by Microsoft which makes a lot of sense considering how many of their KB articles reference its very handy tools!

BartDart.com appeared on another dig, and hosts a bunch of slightly more obscure tools for various bits.

AnalogX is an old favourite: lots of useful applications for fun and work.

Any other useful (preferably free) sites crammed with the authors’ work around that I’ve missed?

Birthday Paradox

While on some crazy hunt to find information about Random Number Generators on computers, I came across this page on Wikipedia about the Birthday Paradox.

Simply put, it’s the probability that two people in a room will share the same birthday. With just 23 people there’s a 50% probability that at least two of them will share a birthday.

I like to think about these puzzles in different ways to explain them to myself. I am usually fooled, like most people, when I first think about it (23 just seems sooo low…) Then I start to think about it more rationally… there’s a 22/365 chance that somebody has the same birthday as person A, and a 21/365 chance that somebody matches person B…and so on – they all add up (don’t quote me on the maths nor the theory…)

The other good one is the Monty Hall problem, which takes some explaining…

In fact – the helpful bods at Wikipedia have created a category of probability theory paradoxes – enjoy!

Flash Earth

Flash Earth is a flash tool that allows you to compare the satellite photos of a number of online mapping sites, including Google, Ask, NASA and Yahoo (Ask do maps now?).

It’s very neat, incredibly responsive, but is taking the photos unofficially so it’ll be interesting to see for how long all those sources stay online.

Via Google Operating System

Google Reader Next Button

While we’re on the Google Reader subject. On the ‘Goodies’ tab (click Settings in Google Reader) you can now add the ‘Next’ bookmark.

Every time you click the bookmark you are taken to the next unread item in your browser, in its original context. So, for example, if you subscribe to a bunch of blogs, you’ll be taken to the new posts within the blogs themselves. This is an alternative to the “traditional” reading of feeds in aggregators, and was one of the lame complaints about aggregators I originally cited to Scoble ;-P

It means you don’t even need to load Google Reader into your browser before reading articles, which definitely scores points on my aggregator checksheet for speediness. It also means you can see an up-to-date list of comments and -if they’re your thing- trackbacks. Of course, you do have the page loading times, DNS, etc. to add on.

It’s going to be a preference thing, and the best way I can explore it is to load it up and give it the test of a few days.

Further down on the Goodies page you also have the Subscribe bookmark, which lets you subscribe to the current page in Google reader (assuming it has a feed). Firefox, IE7 and Opera (I think/am sure) all do this now, but it’s always handy to have.

I have another post brewing about all of this [sighs of restlessness from the back seats] but it’s taking a few days to brew. You could always subscribe to this blog in the meantime 😉

Google Reader

Google’s new feed reader is neat. Very neat.

Okay, it’s not new any more, but in the few weeks it’s been out I’ve been able to give it a real test drive. After my unnecessarily long rant about life, the universe and feed readers back in July I decided to give Google another go.

My main requirements for a decent feed reader are straightforward but demanding:

  • It’s got to be FAST. And I mean fast. This thing is going to be used several times a day, every day. Any delay/slowness is a negative and will be noticed! Google’s reader is quick, responsive and elegantly handles large numbers of feeds. We’re assuming here that I already have a browser open (which I do, nearly always). Even better – because the application is always running (when you think about it…) it already has my unread items ready before I’ve even opened it. Compare this to desktop readers, where you have to wait.
  • The less clicks the better. So showing all unread feeds in a single view is a plus. I just scroll down with Google (you can also use keyboard shortcuts).
  • It needs to be reliable. No complaints here yet.

These sound like any web-based aggregator would do, but I could never get on with Bloglines and other comparable web-apps. Google Reader hits the sweet spot, and I can highly recommend it.

I have further thoughts on the Reader. As soon as these fall out of my head I’ll be sure to post them.