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17 October, 2002

Unwanted CDs

There's a story at cnn.com about a campaign to collect one million AOL CDs, and ship them back to AOL's headquarters.

The (poor quality) photo to the left is my unused CD collection. Most of them are stored on a 48-inch metal rod. You can also see a few piles in the foreground which don't fit on the rod. My estimate: 2,250 CDs. The CDs in the photo weigh in at about 46 pounds, so one million of these suckers would tip the scales at more than 20,000  pounds.

In my collection, the majority are old CDs from MSDN and TechNet, but it also includes hundreds of AOL CDs -- I usually snag a handful every time I go to the post office.

I have no idea what I will do with these, but I'm too far into it to stop now. One option is to insert a string of lights through the holes and make a lamp, but the technicalities have so far eluded me. Any suggestions?

Posted on 17 October, 2002

The Japanese Version of Ellen Feiss?

BoingBoing linked to Apple's Japanese site, which features QuickTime versions of their "switch" TV ads. These appear to be very similar to the America ads, For example, compare the American Ellen Feiss ad with this Japanese ad. I can't understand Japanese, but the two seem to share some common elements. One key difference: The Japanese girl doesn't appear to be stoned.

  • More for Ellen Feiss fans
  • And here's a great parody (Flash) at macboy.com, featuring Bill Gates

Posted on 17 October, 2002

Dave Coursey on Microsoft Works

ZDNet's Dave Coursey devoted his space today to discussing Microsoft Works. The man pretty much summarizes what I've been saying for years: For the vast majority of users (maybe 80%), MS Works is a perfectly satisfactory alternative to Microsoft Office. And, unlike Microsoft Office, it is reasonably priced (Dave quotes $84).

Fact is, most people who use MS Office don't have a clue as to what it's all about. I suspect that the majority use only Word (and Word is also part of MS Works). They tend to use a few features, and simply never bother to learn what it can really do.

The responses to Dave's article are predictable, and fall into two categories: Those who accuse him of being a shill for Microsoft, and those who sing the praises of other low-priced alternatives (notably, Open Office and WordPerfect Suite).

Posted on 17 October, 2002

Did You Make Your $1.24 Contribution to Microsoft?

Yesterday, Microsoft announced earnings for the quarter ending September 30. Two facts:

  • Microsoft Q1 revenues: $7.75 billion
  • World population: 6.25 billion

That works out to about $1.24 for every man, woman, and child on earth. I didn't buy any Microsoft products last quarter, so I guess I owe them.

Posted on 17 October, 2002

A Bloated Excel File from MS

Microsoft's web site has a link to an Excel workbook that contains summary financial data for the last quarter. Just for grins, I downloaded it and took a look. All of the formulas have been converted to values. But, oddly, the workbook also contains more than 150 defined names, most of which either contain links to other documents on various servers at Microsoft, or contain errors. It also has dozens of unused custom styles.

Deleting the extraneous stuff reduced the file size by about 20%. Not a big deal, but I think these guys should spend a few minutes to clean up the files they make available to the public. It sets a good example for the rest of us.

Posted on 17 October, 2002

Two New Excel On-line Articles

This week, two of my Excel articles were published. Well, not really published. They were posted on the Web:

Posted on 17 October, 2002

An EZ Way to Try Linux

I've been a Windows guy all of my life. I've been curious about Linux, but never got around to installing it. Ron Martell, a fellow MS MVP, turned me on to a cool (but huge) download that gave me the opportunity.

It's called Knoppix Linux, and you can download a 720-Meg ISO image here. It's important to understand that the CD you create is bootable (installation not required), and it will make no changes to your hard drive. So it's a perfect way to try Linux if you don't have a spare system.

It took me about an hour to download it, and about six minutes to burn it to a CD. Then I popped it into a CD-ROM drive and re-booted. It was configured automatically, and I was up and running in a matter of minutes. The only manual intervention required at start-up was to specify the language (it defaults to German).

The GUI is much like Windows XP, so I felt pretty much at home. I was amazed to discover how much software is crammed on the CD: KOffice, Open Office, games, multimedia apps, editors, etc. etc. Apparently, the software is decompressed on-the-fly onto a RAM disk (which it creates). I spent about two hours playing around. Overall, I was very impressed.

If you have any interest in Linux (and a fast Net connection), give it a try.

Posted on 17 October, 2002