Archive for June, 2008

Never use driver CDs sold with the hardware

June 15, 2008

I always plug new hardware directly to the computer without using any installation CD, and let Windows look for the drivers(PSPO). A never had a problem with that. On the other hand, if I insert the installation CDs from the hardware manufacturers, they install all kinds of junk, especially startup programs, tray itmes, internet explorer plugins, and additional software like calendars, photo albums, etc. Usually this software works much worse than what comes with Windows, and often compromizes system integrity. It takes a lot of time to deinstall and clean up.

The worst case happened a few years ago to me: a wireless broadband modem by aon, a austrian internet provider. The installation CD, after many crashes and several telephone calls to the service line, even replaced the title bar of internet explorer to read “aon speed”. When trying the repair that, I corrupted my registry and had to reinstall WindowsXP from scratch (fortunately, I had up-to-date backups). On my new Vista Computer, I just connected to the wireless network Windows found on the air (the internet gave the hint that I have to press some button on the modem just before doing so for the first time, so that the modem registers and accepts the new computer) and everythink works. Additionally, I can now find the modem in the Network places list, and can look at the configuration through it’s embedded web server. This did not work with the software from the installation disk.

Similarly, I work with my Digital Camera (Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS) and my Scanner/Printer (HP PSC1600). For all of them, Vista has found drivers, and I can copy the images from the camera just as from a memory stick, and the printer/scanner dialog appears reliably if I print/scan. Both installation CDs want to install an album, despite Vista has a built-in Version (which I don’t use either), and also some free, probably junk picture editiors. Why should I use it if I have Photoshop? (before I forget to mention it: HP is much worse in this context than Canon).

Nov 9, 2008: I installed a Canon PIXMA MP240 Scanner/Printer without the installation CD and it worked perfectly! If I look into the manual, I can see that the installation CD would have installed junk like an OCR program (I have already two on my computer, one comes with Acrobat, ABBYY FinerReader is my favourite), a solution wizard, some manuals, and would have registered me at canon, and also asked me to join an extended survey. I can do the ink head calibration at any time later, actually the printout looks fine also without. I have saved a lot of time and disk space. Did I say somewhere on this blog that Canon products always work perfectly, and HP products don’t? The reason why I needed a new printer is that the my HP PSC1610 broke (at least a small plastic parts) after a few hundred pages and tree or four years.

Windows Vista no longer handles links in Start menu correctly

June 12, 2008

There was a handy, but little used feature in Windows since recently: by placing a folder into the (left top section of) the “classical” start menu, one could use hirarchic menus to quickly browse the contents. However, this feature has stopped to work a few days ago (probably after an automatic system update). Please, whoever influental reads this: make this feature working again. It outperforms all other kinds of directory browsing by far, since it avoids the overhead of useless window decorations and buttons.

Just two days later – after rebooting, installing Windows updates, and deleting and re-creating the links: they work now – and better than ever (before, sometimes double-clicking on a menu entry  of a folder did not open an explorer window, now it works reliably).

Mail clients should store the mails in regular Windows folders

June 10, 2008

A notorious nuisance with all mail programms is that the have their own kind of “folders” where they hide e-mails. This causes all kinds of problems (with searching, backups, etc). Why don’t they just use regular Windows (or Unix) folders and store the files in .eml format, or, even better for the attachments, as folders with a .txt for the text and the attachements as fregular files?

Foxit PDF Reader

June 1, 2008

I tried this Adobe Reader substitute, and small text is not as legible as with the original, at least in portrait mode on my convertible. Deinstalled.

Browsers are HTML viewers

June 1, 2008

I think that Web-Browsers should only show HTML (and derivates) within their own windows, and use external applications for everything else (including .jpg, if not in an IMG tag). I see absolutely no advantage in looking at  a spreadsheet (.xls) inside an internet or firefox window, without all the menus, etc. This is especially true for .pdf.

Windows task manger lost title bar and tabs

June 1, 2008

Windows task manager had suddenly lost it’s title bar and tabs – this loss even persisted after a restart! The solution is simple: double-click at the border of the window!

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

Adobe Acrobat

June 1, 2008

My Toshiba convertible (a notebook, not a car) came with Windows Vista pre-installed. However, I wanted to avoid too much change at the same time (and did not want to spend too much money at one time). So I installed the program versions which I was used to (owned): among others, Acrobat 7.0. Despite a warning on Adobes homepage this works quite well.

One problem with the convertible is that the rotated display is most conveniently used upside-down. There is a utility from Toshiba which rotates the desktop accordingly. This, however changes the order of the sub-pixels from RGB to BGR: something that sup-pixel renderers like ClearType (Microsoft) and CoolType (Adobe) must know. While I found a simple utility for ClearType which does this automatically (Cleartype Rotator), BGR cannot even be manually selected with Cool Type.

The first true problem appeared when Adobe Update Manager tried to update to version 7.1. Unfortunately, it could not write some DLLs. “Permission denied”. I gave Administrator rights to Adobe Update Manager, but this helped nothing. l finally found out that the file was owned by “SYSTEM” , and changed owner to Administrator – did help nothing. However, about 2 weeks later the problem seemed to have disappeared from alone, when the installation was apparently successfull. Unfortunately, after the required reboot there was still the same version of Acrobat installed (from Hilfe:Systeminformation, Help:System info):

Installierte Acrobat-Version: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 7.0\Acrobat\Acrobat.exe
Erstellungsdatum: 2008/06/01
Erstellungzeit: 11:20:41

I then tried having the C:\Users\steier\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Acrobat\7.0\Updater\AcroProUpd710_all_cum.exe (which the update process downloads , runs, and deletes afterwards) running separately as Administrator by copying it to another place, and this gave much more diagnostic output, but the situation afterwards was the same. If I have Acrobat check for new Updates, it still finds the update to 7.1.0.

I found a useful forum at

However, maybe I had messed up my installation by changing ownerships too much, I was not able to rename the ActiveX directory (“Permission denied”). I tried some more things, but finally I decided to deinstall Acrobat 7.0, Reader 8.X. Actually, I found the files where I had messed with the permissions afterwards still sitting in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 7.0. I deleted this folder, which was allowed.

Then I reinstalled Acrobat 7.0 from scratch. When I checked for Updates afterwards, only 7.1 was suggested. I do that… all runs as if ok, but the situation is still the same: I still have

Installierte Acrobat-Version: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 7.0\Acrobat\Acrobat.exe
Erstellungsdatum: 2008/06/01
Erstellungzeit: 15:03:21

and the update to 7.1 is still suggested when Check for Updates is called.

Now I wanted to reinstall AdobeReader8.X, and made the download from Adobe: AdbeRdr812_de_DE.exe. However, if I start this file, it asks for Administrator rights, but afterwards does nothing, despite it is still running in task manager (without any open windows).

Finally, I have decided to install Acrobat 8.0. However, also now a message appeared that C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Acrobat\ActiveX\acropdf.dll cannot be written. Thus, I changed the owner of the ActiveX folder to Administrators and gave full access to everybody. The installation continued successfully.