More Ubuntu – Virtual PC’s

I’ve been playing with Ubuntu for a while. Besides a few oddities on my laptop, it has worked almost perfectly.  It works quite well, since I’m not an uber gamer, there’s not much that I can’t do via a Virtual PC.  I originally thought I’d use VMWare.  I’ve always heard about them and their products and so they were my first call.

The only problem is that finding support for their product was kinda tough.  I had a problem where my USB devices would just not get detected by the virtual pc and if they did they would not work correctly.  I found a number of articles talking about how to fix the problems but none of the solutions worked.

Eventually I stumbled upon VirtualBox which just seems to work so well.  I had some brief difficulties with USB, but VERY quickly found solutions on their forums.  I’ve had to do lots of forum searching since starting out with Ubuntu, and its getting a little tiering.  But its damned fast, and I kinda like the fact that I sometimes have to get involved just under the surface of the Operating System to get it working.

With Windows its semi-easy to do everything, but there are downsides… A fresh Windows XP SP 2 installation takes a LOT of updates and its pretty slow at getting them… My Ubuntu install did a few updates, and they were damned fast.  It seems that ubuntu has update servers in various countries around the world, and one of them just so happens to be South Africa.  Not sure why Microsoft doesn’t do that, but ubuntu’s updates certainly do download WAAAAY faster than my microsoft updates, and there’s a damn side less reboots involved.


When Software Sucks

I’ve had to re-install my PC at work due to some hardware issues and Oh My Goodness(!!) some software installations are up to crap!  A few quick lessons:

  1. Microsoft – if you ship an MSDN DVD with an installation for VS.Net 2005, please make sure that the installation can actually work?  I sat installing and got to the point of requiring “Disk 2” and the whole thing just died.  There was no way for me to tell the installer “Disk 2 is in this folder here, right next to the one you’re installing from”.  So I had to uninstall, and find an older version of the MSDN disc which actually had a working install
  2. Trend Micro – Just give up on UI design now! 
  3. I installed Trend Micro PC-Cillin 2007, all went fine (from previous experience I did not install their firewall, since the old version was useless).  I ran their main console and its filled with “warnings”… The biggest one (which window’s reported too) is that is database is out of date…
    1. Rule 1: Tell your users what went wrong or how to fix it
      So I click on the big “Update Now” button, it greys out as if something is going to happen, and then becomes clickable again.  But no updates have happened!
    2. Rule 2: If you tell me something, then make it so
      So finally I figure out that the Updates are not happening because I haven’t registered the software.  So I go and register it via their ui (which pops up a window WAY too big for the form I’m filling out). At the end of the process I get told that the registration was succesful. 

      Then it turns out that I can’t update my antivirus database until they have flagged something in an online system somewhere that says that I do actually have a license.  Why the crap didn’t this happen during the activation process?  Why didn’t they tell me that this was going to happen?  And why in the name of all things holy does the bloody update button not just pop up a dialog to tell me why it isn’t doing its job?

    3. Rule 3: Give UI cue’s if you’re going to perform a long running process
      While waiting for trend to activate my installation in their central database, I decided to look at the features.  I thought I’d try turn on their “SPAM Protection” feature.  So I click on the “On/Off” drop down and choose on.  The whole application hangs.  The cursor shows me the regular mouse pointer, no indication of what its doing or how long I should expect to wait.  Finally it starts responding again.  A little later I’m showing someone else how silly it was: I click on the drop down, and click away from it… Again the long pause with no UI cues to tell me what its doing.  (Even though it shouldn’t be doing anything since I didn’t change anything).
    4. Rule 4: If you’re supposed to be doing something in the background then do it in the background
      I expect any antivirus software to automatically update itsself… I’d like some small cue to tell me that it is doing so, but I do NOT expect it to pop up a window randomly, taking focus away from my active application, to let me know that it is going to start an update now.  I applaud their attempt at keeping me informed, but please! I work on my PC… I don’t want to keep having to alt+tab away from your darned update window. 
    5. Rule 5: Make it easy to turn off “friendly” notifications
      Following on from rule 4, I had to search through the settings before I found the option to stop it from popping up the “I’m updating now” dialog.  But there’s two more annoying popups that I can’t get rid of.  One is when you start up the main console.  They open a “Trend Online” window on the right, which basically tells me that I can’t use any of their online services unless I buy a better subscription.  Its really of no use to me, but I can’t find the place where I can turn this bloody thing off!  It’s irritating! 
  4. Microsoft & Trend: If you need me to reboot my PC, just ask me once!  For goodness sake, I’m not an idiot. So reminding me every 15 minutes that I need to reboot my pc in order for the recently updated components to be applied is just going to piss me off.  At the very least give me an option to postpone the next “warning” for a few hours or a few days!

Admittedly, Trend’s 2007 interface is WAAAAAY better than their older one, and their firewall looks a little more usable than the last version. So they have done some things right. 😀