Words and Software

Technical writing/user assistance in Microsoft.Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS). (old: Data Protection Manager and Operations Manager)

July, 2008

  • OT: blogs from the past

    I've really enjoyed the blog WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier which posts Harry Lamin's letters during WWI, each exactly 90 years from when they were written. The blog format, parcelling out the letters in real time + 90, makes the reading experience seem more genuine than the same letters packaged all at once in a book would (IMHO).

    So I'm really looking foward to The Orwell Prize blog which will be taking the same approach by publishing George Orwell's diaries, each entry 70 years from the date it was written. The diary entries will begin appearing Aug 9 - mark your calendar!

  • Support for Windows Server 2008

    I know many of you have been waiting anxiously eagerly for management packs for Windows Server 2008. The support statement has been released and now we can start publishing them to the Catalog. Be sure to read Clive's post carefully, he calls out some important information that you'll want to be aware of.

  • Zune and Pinnacle Video Transfer

    I'm not a hardcore gadget junkie, although I've bought plenty that I never really use...maybe a semi-junkie. Most of my gadgets are from Woot because at 10 p.m. pacific time when I refresh their site, it's really easy to convince myself that I have to have that (whatever it is). My most recent impulse was the Pinnacle Video Transfer. I have several old home movies on VHS that I've been worrying about losing, and the last gadget for VHS-to-PC transfer that I got failed miserably.

    So I decided to try this. And I'm blogging about it because so many of the comments on the Woot blog wondered if it worked with Zune.

    The answer is, not directly. However, I transferred the VHS tapes to a USB drive, then attached the drive to my computer and copied the resulting videos over to a folder monitored by Zune. Zune found them instantly and synced them to my device, where they played with no problem. Very easy and satisfying! And now I can sleep better, knowing my daughter's high school graduation is safely reproduced in digital form in multiple locations. (Also, back in the 80s, there was a chain of "Be a Star!" stores, where pre-adolescents could get makeovers, costumes, and then lip-synch in their own personal music video. I also salvaged that tape, to my daughter's chagrin!)

  • That pesky admin password

    Most everyone has heard some of the stories about the frustrations of providing tech support. Here's a fun one that Help writers will appreciate:

    My friend Duane was on duty in the main lab on a quiet afternoon. He noticed a patron sitting in front of one of the workstations with his arms across his chest as he stared at the screen. When my friend asked if the guy needed help, he replied, "It's about time! I pushed the F1 button over 20 minutes ago!"

    So it's understandable that an admin might get fed up at times. But holding the password to the city's network hostage is...extreme, no? (I can see it as grounds for being fired, but I'm really curious which law they charged him for violating.) Although there are probably many admins who would sympathize with the lawyer's explanation:

    "Mr. Childs had good reason to be protective of the password," Crane said. "His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves, hindered his ability to maintain it ... and shown complete indifference to maintaining it themselves.

    "He was the only person in that department capable of running that system," Crane said. "There have been no established policies in place to even dictate who would be the appropriate person to hand over the password to."