Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Microsoft pulls Outlook 2013 patch

Posted by Alan at 3:36 AM on September 12, 2013

Microsoft logoThis week was the monthly Patch Tuesday, a time when Microsoft sees fit to push out updates to various software, most notably Windows and Office. Its a tense time, thanks to past problems that have resulted in unbootable computers for some customers. This month did not cause anything quite so drastic, but it also did not pass without notice.

The company pushed a patch for Outlook 2013, but quickly had to pull that particular update from the set due to reports of customers having issues with KB2817630, which was a non-security update.

The problem arose from a version incompatibility between outlook.exe and mso.dll, a mismatched reference to a data structure causes the “minimize” button in the navigation pane to render incorrectly, typically by appearing extremely large to the point that the navigation pane is “invisible” to the user. The issue only appears when incompatible versions of outlook.exe and mso.dll exist on the system.

Not all versions of the latest Outlook for Office were affected:

Affected

  • Office 2013 Standard
  • Office 2013 Professional Plus

Not Affected

  • Office 2013 Home & Student
  • Office 2013 Home & Business
  • Office 2013 Professional
  • Office 365 Home Premium
  • Office 365 Professional Plus
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 Enterprise

Microsoft promises that it is “working on re-publishing the September Public Update with the correct versions of both mso.dll and outlook.exe to ensure users with automatic updates enabled will receive the correct fix. We will update this blog with further information as our schedule develops”.

3M’s Personal Projectors at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:28 AM on April 17, 2012

3M LogoPowerpoint and data projectors have become synonymous with business presentations and I dread to think how many people I have bored over the years. As with almost any technology, the data projectors have got smaller and cheaper, but this was the first time I’d seen how small personal projectors had become. As you can see from the photograph, most would actually fit in a (large) pocket.

3M Pocket Projectors

3M have a range of seven projectors, of which four were on show at The Gadget Show. Unsurprisingly, the different models have different capabilities and there’s more product information here (not all the new models are on the site yet), but I was genuinely impressed by how good the pictures were. The NEC is not a darkened room and yet it was easy to see the presentation or film that was being projected.

As you’d expect the different models have different features; battery size, wireless connectivity, in-built memory and a new model, the MP220, runs Android (it’s the one on the left side of the photograph). I chat with Peter from 3M about the new additions to the range.

Google Docs Gets Pagination and Better Spreadsheet Printing

Posted by Alan at 3:36 PM on April 12, 2011

For two days in a row the Google Docs team has announced an update to their online office suite offering.  Yesterday they enhanced the printing ability of Spreadsheets and today they have added pagination.

The enhancement to Spreadsheets printing in two-fold.  The first the addition of of spreadsheets support for Google Cloud Print.  When viewing your spreadsheet on a mobile device you will now find a “Print” option just below the document title.  You will first need to set up your printer for “the cloud”.  Google Cloud Print is supported for Android 2.1+ and iOS 3+.

The second part of the Spreadsheets printer update involved the desktop version of Docs.  Google added more print options such as spreadsheet titles, sheet names and page numbers.  You can now control which of these you want to print.

Today’s Google Docs update is the addition of pagination.  Google claims that it is “another first for web browsers by adding a classic word processing feature—pagination, the ability to see visual pages on your screen.”  It is rolling out throughout the days and will be available to all users before tomorrow.  For users, this means you will be able to see page-breaks so that you can see how many pages are in a document and change your layout to get the look you want.  According to Google “Because we’re able to show you individual pages, we can improve the way other features work too: headers now show up at the top of each page instead of just at the top of your doc, manual page breaks actually move text onto a new page and footnotes appear at the bottom of the pages themselves.”  You can also hide page breaks if you prefer a continuous view.  Simply click View – Documents View and choose between Paginated and Compact.

Google Docs continues to excel forward as it becomes the best online office suite available.  Microsoft may want to get moving on their offering, which is still in private beta.

Google Docs Update

Posted by Alan at 6:51 PM on March 15, 2011

Google announced today another update to their online Docs software.  If you haven’t used Google Docs, it basically an online Office-type application that beat Microsoft to the punch.  Docs is great for online collaboration and cloud storage.  The latest update allows users to graph multiple ranges and the ability to hide sheets.

Graphing multiple ranges can be done by clicking on Select ranges… and add another range. This gives users the ability to create charts that show multiple graphs to contrast different trends.  It’s handy, especially if you want to contrast and compare such things as origins of web traffic or company income.  It’s something users have wanted for sometime now.

The ability to hide sheets is another Spreadsheet addition that Docs users will find helpful.  To enable it you simply need to click a sheet and choose Hide Sheet.  This doesn’t completely remove the sheet from a users view – to bring it back into view you can click the Hidden sheets option in the View menu.  This probably isn’t as needed as the graphing addition, but I’m sure there are users out there that were really wanting this option.

While Microsoft’s online version of Office, known as Office 365, continues to languish in private Beta, Google Docs is moving forward.  It’s encouraging that they are coming closer to a full suite that can rival Office.  They aren’t there yet, but in terms of online applications they are probably ahead.  And that, going forward, is probably the best place to be.

The Man Who Lied To His Laptop

Posted by tomwiles at 4:36 PM on September 19, 2010

I just finished listening to the unabridged Audible audio book version of “The Man Who Lied To His Laptop” by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen.

After many years of working as a software interface design consultant, Clifford Nass has developed the theory that human brains cannot completely and fundamentally distinguish the difference between interacting with people and interacting with devices. This book details nearly 30 experiments Nass has performed that back up this revolutionary theory.

Remember “Clippy” from Microsoft Word? Chances are, the mere mention of the dreaded Microsoft Office animated paperclip brings up wildly negative feelings. Clippy’s main flaw was that he couldn’t learn and kept badgering Office users over and over for carrying out repetitive tasks that were not mistakes. Even though users “knew” that Clippy was just an animated character, part of their brain actually related to Clippy as a real, despicable character that lived in their computers.

Similarly, BMW had a big problem with male German car owners complaining loudly about the integrated BMW GPS units. It turns out that German men objected over and over again to BMW’s help line that the BMW GPS units came equipped with a female voice, and that just wouldn’t do, because it just wasn’t “right” to take driving directions from a female voice. “Knowing” that mostly male engineers had developed it wasn’t enough to eliminate the problem.

The book is filled with some rather amazing results of experiments that indicate just how suggestible the average person really is. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Do Frequent Phone O/S Updates Make Sense?

Posted by tomwiles at 1:01 AM on August 18, 2010

I’ve had my HTC Evo for a couple of months or more at this point. When I first turned it on, there was an update waiting. The update installed. So far, so good.

Over the next few weeks I heard there was another update available, but it turned out there was a problem with the update. It took HTC and Sprint about a week or more to fix the problem update, but since the Evo was still in very short supply, I chose not to update it right away. What if there was a problem with the update and it bricked the phone? How would I get an immediate replacement? Better to wait.

A few days ago, Sprint and HTC started releasing the “Froyo” or “Frozen Yogurt” Android 2.2 update for the Evo. I decided it was time to take the plunge and accept the update.

There were two updates. The first one downloaded and installed, and then the second. No problems.

Now I’m asking myself, did the upgrade to Android 2.2 live up to all the hype? Android 2.2 on the Evo might be a little bit more snappy, but it’s hard to tell since the Evo already had excellent performance with the version of Android it shipped with. There are a few changes here and there that improve usability, some of them somewhat worthwhile, but was it really worth the trouble? The phone was a great device before the update. It’s a great device after the update.

Are updates to existing smartphones enough reason for consumers to get really excited over? As I see it, if lots of new basic usability and reliability can be added with a particular update, then it’s likely worthwhile. Smartphones are still evolving devices.

It seems to me that the job of adding new functionality to smartphones falls primarily to apps, and not necessarily the operating system itself. The operating system should be a stable, functional platform that offers basic functionality and services to those apps.

Once smartphone operating system design begins to mature however, the danger of updating and changing things just for the sake of change is always a potential risk. Also keep in mind that on average people replace cell phones about every 18 months, which is a much more frequent replacement cycle than desktop and laptop computers.

In the realm of desktop computer software, Microsoft Office is a great example of mature software design. There are only so many things word processing software can do. Microsoft Word and Excel both had good design and usability for me starting way back with Office 95. With subsequent releases, Microsoft seemed to sometimes arbitrarily change things just for the sake of change, which is a huge usability mistake. Computer software design is not the same as car styling design.

Location, Location, Location

Posted by tomwiles at 1:06 AM on July 22, 2010

A few days ago I posted an article here entitled “Waxing Nostalgic” in which I reminisced about the original three Podcast & New Media Expos held at Ontario, California and how special they were.

Upon further examination, it’s suddenly become obvious to me what set these three conferences apart and what made them such a success from a social standpoint.

The thing that made the three Ontario podcast conferences unique was the fact that perfect strangers felt very comfortable striking up spontaneous conversations with each other. As a result of this comfort level, something rather remarkable happened. People talked a lot (these were podcasters, remember) and in many instances formed lasting friendships.

When the podcast conference was moved to Las Vegas, an entirely different mindset took over. In Las Vegas, strangers simply don’t feel comfortable approaching each other and striking up spontaneous conversations, even if they see that the other person is wearing a conference badge. The open, spontaneous conversation mindset generated at the Ontario Convention Center was perceived as perfectly normal in Ontario. However, being open and starting spontaneous conversations in Las Vegas would be perceived as weird and so therefore isn’t done.

This is a simple principle, yet it can have a profound effect on whether or not a given conference will be perceived as successful. I could see how conference planners could get caught up with other ideas surrounding where to hold a conference, but forget that the mindset generated in particular places is going to potentially produce very different behavior from the same people, which may or may not be detrimental. If the wrong behavior is produced by an incompatible mindset, it can spell disaster.

I believe the mindset generated by location also extends to and in part explains the old business axiom, “location, location, location” as being important to the success of a business.

Generate the right mindset in part with geography and surroundings to get people in a buying mood for particular types of products and services, and your business has a chance at being successful. Ignore this all-important mindset generation aspect of specific locations at your business’ peril.

Word. Not Yours.

Posted by susabelle at 7:44 AM on August 12, 2009

MSOfficeiWord (yes, pun intended) comes today that a Federal District Court judge has barred the sale of Microsoft Word until further notice.  The ruling stems from a patent infringement lawsuit brought byI4i, a software company located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The infringement relates specifically to customized XML being used in the creation of XML and/or DOCX files. In addition to the ban on sales of Microsoft Word, part of the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft has been ordered to pay over $287 million in restitution and damages.

Microsoft plans to appeal the decision, which means that any implementation of the ban could be put off indefinitely.

In the meantime, Microsoft can start working on removing XML functionality from Word or find another workaround to the ban.  And I imagine with a bit of extra greasing of palms, this whole thing will go away as if it never happened.

Here is the summation of the ban from the court record:

Microsoft Corporation is hereby permanently enjoined from performing the following actions with Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2007, and Microsoft Word products not more than colorably different from Microsoft Word 2003 or Microsoft Word 2007 (collectively “Infringing and Future Word Products”) during the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449:

1. selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file (“an XML file”) containing custom XML;

2. using any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;

3. instructing or encouraging anyone to use any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;

4. providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML; and

5. testing, demonstrating, or marketing the ability of the Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML.

Microsoft should reward customer Loyalty

Posted by todd at 12:54 PM on December 17, 2006

Microsoft-loyaltyMost households in America are now starting to see more than one computer in them. Today my kids share a single PC, and as they get older I am sure each will have to have their own. My wife and I each have laptops. Not to mention the desktop machine I use for show production. A road trip earlier in the year caused me to have an extra laptop that the wife uses, but before she went house mobile she had her own desktop machine.

This makes for a grand total 5 computers in my household all running Windows XP, of those machines 4 of them will be able to upgrade to Windows Vista and all five to Office 2007. When I start putting the calculator to this I realize that probably I can only afford to upgrade two of them with the respective versions I will want to run.

Here is where I get into the crux of the issue. I am a loyal Microsoft user and have a number of computers in my household that I will want to upgrade and because consumers are not afforded volume discounts I will be unable to upgrade them all.

Granted Microsoft usually deals with companies that buy bulk license but how come a consumer who needs to upgrade lets say more than 3 computers cannot be cut a break on the software cost. This reduces the chances that a consumer will try and apply a hack to save some money.

How about it should loyal customers be given discounts on volume purchases?

GNC-2006-11-14 #216

Posted by geeknews at 3:19 AM on November 14, 2006

Well we have another winner and he who won will be very surprised. I go after Microsoft and the Zune player in a big way tonight and I think you will agree with me they just don’t get it. Some serious Soap Box time tonight!

Sponsors:
Sponsor: Save Money with all our GoDaddy Codes see our Promo Code Page
[Try GoToMeeting free for 30 days at GoToMeeting.com/techpodcasts. No credit card needed.]


Blubrry.com player!

blubrry.com

Comments to 619-342-7365 e-mail to geeknews@gmail.com

Listener Links:
iGive.com
iPod user Thieves!
RIAA Humor
Congrats to our mystery second Winner

Show Notes:
RIAA Spin Machine
Response to RIAA
Black Friday
Windows WiFi Vulnerability
Crack a Combo Lock
Zune and Microsoft Points!
Method to Zune Madness
Zune Install HELL!
Zune and apparently no Microsoft Transparency!
GlobalRichList.com
Shoot Video Better
Notebook Fire
Breaking into a Mac!
New Media Picks
Conference Community
Dabble.com
TalkPlus.com
Pre-Roll not working!
Google Custom!
Mars Global Surveyor
Win a Island!
Astronauts Prepare
Bill Gates
Sun Dumb in RL versus SL
Vista & Office Hacked
YouTube Revolt