It’s a Computer, You Can’t Expect it to… Count

So I’m deleting this really big folder from my USB hard drive, and I get the message from Windows:


which is odd, because I know there’s over 35,000 files totaling over 370 GB of data in that folder.

Ah, I see…

the count is growing.  Fortunately, only 5 seconds remain.

A few minutes later, over a minute remains:

which slowly counts down to 5 seconds, which remains the estimate for the next 15 minutes:

I know I’ve ranted about Vista on more than one occasion.  But this is ridiculous.

I understand that some operations may seem quick, and then turn out to be slow, foiling the accuracy of a progress bar.  This is not the case, however.  This progress bar is estimating time to completion without ever attempting to compute the actual size of the operation! The rate of file deletion is extremely consistent.  If Vista had begun by counting the number of files in the total set, then an accurate estimate could have been presented.

Oh well.  At least we have talking paperclips.

Please Wait While We Fumble Around in the Registry

I really like Windows Live Writer.  But what’s up with the installer?

Why should it take long to determine which Windows Live applications are installed?  Hey, Microsoft developers, I’ve got a new word for you: manifest.  Would it be too hard to just have a file that contains the Windows Live applications and their versions?  I’m sure it would take a lot less time to “Search”.

Oh, yeah.  A loooong time.  Just under 15 minutes.

Seriously, folks.  If you can’t write better apps than that, I have grave concerns for the future of your company.

Did I Mention that Vista Sucks?

I needed to do a quick screen-sharing session with a couple of folks today.

In the past, I’ve always reached for MSN Messenger.  At my last client, Messenger was the default chat client, and since it has built-in application sharing, we used it daily for all kinds of tasks from troubleshooting code to figuring out where to eat.

For some reason, however, I got stuck in an infinite loop when I tried to use Messenger to share a web page.  Selecting “Application Sharing” from the “Start an Activity” menu, I was presented with this disturbing message:

Your invitation was not sent because you need the latest version of Messenger to use the Application Sharing feature. Please go to the Windows Live Messenger update site to install the latest version.

That was a strange message, because I’m running the latest version available, 8.5.x.  But, being a sucker, I clicked the provided link, which started up the Windows Live Installer, which promptly informed me that I was, in fact, running the latest version.

I tried to get help on the Windows Live site, but there is no help at all on the “Application Sharing” feature.  In fact, the closest item in the Help Table of Contents was this useless page.

Frustrated, I turned to one of the last remaining software companies that still seems to have a clue (Google) for an answer to my problem.  Google quickly provided this thoroughly helpful link, which, as you can see, explains that Application Sharing (as well as Whiteboard) are no longer available in Vista.  Instead, we have Windows Live Meeting, which is a Vista-only application (and is much more clumsy to use than Messenger).

Yet another place where I’ve bumped my head on Vista.  It’s not that it’s different.  It’s that it doesn’t work as well.

Or, in this case, AT ALL.

My Vista Field Report

Vista sucks.


What really amazes me is that, apparently, tens of thousands of people tested this operating system for an extended period of time, and it still made it out the door.

I’m not going into elaborate detail about the problems, which, while numerous, fall into two categories:

  • Performance
  • Usability


Vista performance is terrible. I am running Vista on a 3Ghz Pentium D, 2 GB RAM, 1 GB ReadyBoost, 200 GB main drive, 500 GB data drive, etc. etc. etc.. Not the world’s most modern computer, but still quite powerful. XP runs on it like a champ.

Here’s my benchmark. I run a NAnt compile script repeatedly on an app that I maintain. I’ll compile this thing 20, 30 times at a sitting. I was frustrated with the process because, on Vista, sometimes it would compile in 5-8 seconds, but about 40% of the time it would take 30-60 seconds. Very slow, and far more variable.

On XP? The same process runs in 6.8 seconds, with approximately .3 seconds variability. Like clockwork.

The reason for the slowness and variability is easy to guess: the problem is probably any number of the 89 processes or dozens of services running at any time in a minimal Vista install. The thing is so horribly overbloated. If even one or two are rude, then that could be the problem.

What I do know is that my hard drive is constantly spinning. I’ve complained about this many times in support forums. The answer is always the same: the Windows Search indexer will chew on the drives for a few days to weeks while it’s building the initial search index. This is a perfectly reasonable and understandable explanation, and I’m willing to accept it since the idea of Windows Search is possbily worthwhile.

However, six months and one red-hot disk drive later, nothing’s changed. I don’t know what Vista is up to, but it’s really working hard. Way too hard to just be idling. And that ReadyBoost memory key just stays lit up.

I figured I might have a bad install, so I switched back to XP for a few months, then, stupidly, reverted back to Vista. SSDD.

I don’t have time to test, fix, troubleshoot, or benchmark. I use the computer too much. But my near-constant use provides me with outstanding subjective measures. The user experience of Vista is very, very slow.

Conclusion: Vista performance is terrible.


Aero is beautiful. My video adapter is quite powerful, so Areo renders nicely with no performance hit. Lovely. But no improvement in usability.

The rearrangements in Vista are a setback. Did the “Add/Remove Programs” control panel really need to be changed to “Programs and Settings”? It was a lot easier to find near the top of the list. But the rearrangements are, overall, trivial annoyances that I would eventually overcome.

The UAC is a nightmare. Supposedly, after a while, you don’t have to deal much with the UAC. Clearly, these people don’t ever clean up the shortcuts on their desktop. Every deleted shortcut is first met with “Destination Folder Access Denied – Continue, Skip, Cancel” which, when Continued, requires a UAC authorization.

Yes, that’s right, I need Administrator privileges to delete a shortcut from the desktop.

I’m sure there’s some reason that is perfectly compelling to some propellerhead somewhere. But it’s stupid. I can delete an EXE from my desktop with no interruption at all. So why do I need Administrator permission to delete a shortcut to the same EXE?

This is just one usability example. There are others. The worst offender is not Vista itself but its user-spiteful sidekick, MIcrosoft Office 2007.

Let me get this straight. They decided to change the toolbar and the hotkeys in one fell swoop?

So I’m a hotkey user. Right off the bat, I’m grounded, because so many have changed in Office 2007. So I go hunting for the right button.

However, some genius decided that what I really need, what would be really great, is context-sensitive buttons, completely and utterly missing the beauty and purpose of the button bar.

How so?

If I already knew the context of the command I wanted, then I could just as easily have picked it off a drop-down menu as I could a context-sensitive button bar. The beauty of a button bar is precisely that it isn’t context sensitive. It’s immutable. The same things are always in the same place no matter what I’m doing in the application, unless I specifically modify the bar to suit me.

Which wouldn’t be so horrible if the hotkeys (which are also immutable) hadn’t changed at the exact same time. But they did, grinding my ability to edit Word docs to a complete halt.

Indenting, numbering, and other simple, critical word processing functions have, however, remained broken. No time to fix them, what with all the oh-so-important toolbar redesigning going on.

It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so damned painful.

So, it’s back to Windows XP and Office 2003 for me. At least until it’s time to upgrade.

To a Mac.