Thursday, June 26, 2008

And the little timer just kept spinning

A lot of people bitch about Bill Gates and his immense wealth and power, but I've actually always liked him. For one of the world's richest men, he seems like a pretty good guy, unlike, say, the old robber barons of the Gilded Age who were mean-spirited pricks. He gives a LOT of money to great causes every year, and while he says he will certainly leave his kids well-off, he will give most of his billions away before he dies.

A reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer uncovered a five-year old internal memo that Gates wrote when he tried to do something as simple as download a Microsoft program from the company's web site.

It's one of the reasons it's sort of sad that Gates is leaving day-to-day operations at the company he founded that, literally, changed the world.

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn't in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:\Documents and Settings\billg\My Documents\My Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system ... and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night -- why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don't you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I took a late lunch in the park today and stumbled across the taping of some sort of dog whisperer show there. Look at these guys! And there were about 20 others stretching down the bench but my camera phone doesn't do wide angles too well.


NEW YORK - An Italian businessman famed as the long-time boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway was arrested on Tuesday on charges of operating a fraudulent real estate scheme that he claimed was linked to the Vatican, U.S. authorities said. Raffaello Follieri, 29, a globe-trotting multimillionaire living in New York, was charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
- Reuters

I'm not sure what exactly he did wrong, but I'm happy to see this sleazy guy, who was defiling that princess for far too long, finally get his comeuppance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Twenty five minutes?

"One study by researchers at the University of California at Irvine monitored interruptions among office workers; they found that workers took an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from interruptions such as phone calls or answering e-mail and return to their original task."
- The New Atlantis

Twenty five minutes?

Jeez, and I thought I liked to find ways to procrastinate. That's crazy.

Oh, and all you people reading this damn blog in offices out there - get back to work!!!

My magical aura has apparently kicked in again

Who are these people?

I went up to Connecticut over the weekend and, riding Metro North, I started to read "Night Fall," by one of my favorite fiction writers, Nelson DeMille. A woman and her kid were on the seat next to mine and, as the journey was progressing, I could sense her glancing over at me. Finally she just had to speak, and said, "I see you're reading Nelson DeMille. I just finished 'Gold Coast.'"

Ok, who does that? Who feels compelled to talk to a total stranger, comment on their reading material, and share with them what they themselves are reading?

I don't do that. Why did she?

And it's not like I was reading some obscure work by a little-known Asian philosopher, where perhaps a fellow fan would be surprised and delighted to see another aficionado. I'm pretty sure there's about 800 million copies of DeMille in circulation.

She was the same sort of person who - and I've kvetched about this before - comes into my favorite UES restaurant (where I treat myself to a lovely, peaceful dinner every Thursday night), bypasses 20 empty seats at the bar, and sits RIGHT NEXT to me. Because that happened again last week.

Oy, leave me alone, people.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sometimes they just write themselves

"I, unfortunately, have been to too many disasters as president," Bush said after a briefing on the flooding.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh yeah, it's a real mystery

Amy Winehouse Hospitalized After Fainting at Home

"She quickly recovered and her father Mitch took her to hospital as a precaution," the rep explained. "Doctors are unsure of the cause of the incident and Amy is currently undergoing tests."

Who can explain it? What a puzzlement.

By the way, I will point you to an earlier Too Saucy post about what a train wreck of a tragedy she was becoming.

Especially sad is how relatively normal she looked when she was just starting out not that long ago. Check out that first video of her singing on a British TV show and compare that to her today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dr. Wow!

They've been running promos on Showtime for a new series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" (and I'm sure they're kicking themselves they didn't have this show up and running when the whole Elliot Spitzer story broke) and the girl starring in it is quite lovely to look at. She's blonde, she's got one of those plummy English accents - and there's one clip in particular where she walks away from the camera wearing a pair of booty shorts. Well.

Anyway, when I saw the promos, I thought she looked somewhat familiar, but couldn't quite figure out why.

Thanks to our friends at Fancast, with an ogle-worthy picture gallery, no less, now I know.

It's Billie Piper, the girl who played Rose Tyler on the BBC sci-fi classic, "Dr. Who."

She was always cute enough on the show, but she seemed like a gawky teenager. Not to mention the character, Rose, had a working-class Cockney accent, the London equivalent of Brooklyn, if you will.

And now little Billie is all grown up. Kudos on that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I approve

A bitter battle for control of Anheuser-Busch appears to be looming after the brewer, one of the nation’s most prominent family-run companies, formally became the target of a $46.4 billion unsolicited takeover offer from InBev of Belgium on Wednesday.

But InBev’s bid to take control of Anheuser-Busch, which has been led by the Anheuser and Busch families for 148 years, could get nasty. The St. Louis-based company, led by a scion of the Busch family, August A. Busch IV, has signaled that it will fight a takeover.

In recent weeks, in anticipation of InBev’s bid, privately called Project Aluminum, Anheuser-Busch has hired an army of bankers, lawyers and other advisers to help it mount a defense, The New York Times reported.


Normally when a foreign company buys an iconic American brand or building (supposedly a Saudi company is looking to buy the Chrysler Building) it's a little troubling.

But, jeezus, Bud is some bad beer. Of course, American beer in general is pretty much scorned throughout the world with its weak, watery taste.

Only in the last several years have some micro breweries come along and held up the flag. But Bud and all the big national brands are pretty poor excuses for brew. So I say let this takeover happen. Thank you.

Pookie and Corky

I had drinks with my friend Corky on Wednesday. In her spacey way she called me at about noon and said she was at Pookie & Sebastian near my neighborhood and wanted to know if I could meet her for drinks.

Naturally, I figured it was a restaurant and asked what kind of food they served, but it turns out it's a clothing store. Apparently I was supposed to know that? Helllooo?

A store where they sell $300 jeans, no less. A pair of which she had purchased (on sale, but still). They looked good on her, but, really, $300 for jeans? I can get a pair of Levi's 501 button flies for $35.

Sadly, always the dedicated worker, I had to decline as I had business to attend to in midtown, so I met her later at Redemption where the bartender ended up buying me several free vodka grapefruits – god bless her.

I also made a major social faux pas when Corky's soon-to-be fiance showed up unexpectedly (oh yeah) and I congratulated him on his soon-to-be engagement. Well, apparently that's a major no-no. Who knows these rules? Who invents them?

But, I have to admit, Corky was telling me about a decent idea for a web business. In fact, I may just have to steal it. So if Too Saucy goes dark for a while, that's why - I'm developing this idea.

Hah just kidding. I wouldn't do that.

Of course, if it goes as well as her last enterprise (don't ask), it may eventually be available for the taking, so I will keep all posted when it actually happens. Maybe even provide a link.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mad billionaires

Google Co-Founder Books a Space Flight

Space tourists are getting their own ride. Space Adventures, a Virginia company that arranges passage for wealthy explorers to ride on Russian Soyuz rockets to the International Space Station, plans to buy a Soyuz flight all its own in 2011, with the option of buying more.

A new investor is likely to occupy one of the two available seats on Space Adventures’ 2011 flight: Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google. He made a $5 million investment in the company that will serve as a deposit on a future flight.

What is up with these rich guys who do these wacky and dangerous stunts?

Me, if I had a few billion, I am not buying space flights, or trying to fly a hot air balloon around the world like Richard Branson did. I am buying an island and laying on the beach having grapes peeled for me by some Natalie Portman lookalikes. Hell, maybe even Natalie herself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

God bless you, Willis Haviland Carrier


I'm surprised the old coot doesn't use a telegraph

John McCain, joking (I presume) about his search for a vice presidential candidate: "You know, basically it's a Google. What you can find out now on the Internet -- it's remarkable."

Well, it's nice to know he takes it so seriously. Especially if, God forbid, he actually wins the election. Because when the president is 109 years old, you sort of want to make sure the VP is someone very very qualified.

And what is it with these Republicans and their inability to use common terminology?

George W. Bush once famously called it “The Google.” McCain says “a Google.”

Are they that out of touch with regular people? Oh, wait, I forgot. Yes, they are.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I don't want to say I'm not a good morning person, but....

...I turn down network TV appearances, not to mention free food, if it's at the crack of dawn, thank you very much.

Every year, I fill out those Zagat dining surveys, providing them with some of my patented pithy remarks, and get a free Zagat's New York Guide, as well as membership on, which occasionally emails along special notices about the NY dining scene.

This afternoon I got one saying they were involved with a new restaurant reality show airing on NBC called “The Chopping Block” and were looking for diners to go to a restaurant and eat the food - a la “Hell's Kitchen,” I guess.

They asked for the number of people in my party and a picture, so I made it a plus 1 and sent along a pic of me and my friend Cindy, who is a major foodie.

I got a bounce-back email literally 2 seconds later saying they had already filled all the spots on a first-come basis. Oh well, what can ya do, right? No biggie

Then an hour later I got another email saying I was confirmed and giving me the location and the arrival time – 7:30 am in Cooper Square - for a breakfast seating!

Um, what? Helllooo?


In the fucking morning?

Are they out of their minds?

I responded with an email noting there must have been a mix-up as I had already received an automatic reply from them saying they had filled all their spots, and so I had subsequently made other plans.

Yeah, right.

I believe it's called Rapid Eye Movement.


As if.

I guess that was different

"It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay. No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone."
- John McCain, in a forward he wrote for "The Best and the Brightest," the David Halberstam book about the Vietnam War.

Poetic words from the same John McCain, who now says he would have no problem if our troops have to stay in Iraq 100 more years for George Bush's ugly little war there.

A thing of beauty

Look at that and weep – for that may be the most beautiful drink I have ever concocted.

I spent a long weekend at the beach in New Jersey – my favorite state. You people really have to stop making fun of Jersey!

And except for a work-related project I have to finish by tomorrow, I would have loved to spend another couple of days down there, because, of course, it's about 1000 degrees hotter in the city today than it was on the shore. Ugh.

The killer is we actually had the house for one more day and I seriously almost went out and bought a laptop on Saturday so I could stay down there through today, but, you know, that's a thousand bucks just for an extra day at the beach. Nah.

Anyway, when I got home a little while ago, dying from the oppressive heat, the only thing that could save me was a 7-Up float with Edy's frozen Vanilla Yogurt.

Astoundingly good if I do say so myself.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Enough, already

I went to the Amish Farmer's Market on 45th today. Of course, I could have taken a bus or the subway, but I walked. Five miles round-trip, thank you very much. And I could have went 5 more miles. Unlike some of my more out-of-shape friends who noticeably wheeze just walking to the bus stop on the corner. I digress.

On the way there, and I actually lost count, there were at least eight major construction projects. Hi-rise apartments of 40 or more floors. And that's just on that stretch of the East Side. I'm sure the same is true on the West Side and Downtown.

I keep hearing about the real estate market collapsing everywhere else, but it sure isn't happening here in the city.

That's good news for me as a homeowner, of course. Especially with a lovely high-floor corner unit with great westerly and southerly views, amazing sunsets, 24-hour doorman, health club & pool. I'm just saying, anyone want to talk, leave a message.

Anyhoo, the point is, it's good as a homeowner, but as a citizen and just getting around the city with all these damn construction sites and trucks and cranes, even the ones that don't fall, it's enough already. No more new buildings for a while please. Everyone: stay home, don't move to the city. It's too big and scary for you. Thank you.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm sure he's real glad he picked her

Shayne Lamas, who won "The Bachelor" a few weeks ago, posed for the cover of "Girls Gone Wild" magazine.

First, they have a magazine?

Second, I'm sure her new fiance must be very very proud.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The voice cast of "The Simpsons" has reached a new four-year deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the Hollywood Reporter says. The actors will get a salary increase to nearly $400,000 per episode, the newspaper says. The voice cast is expected to be back at work Tuesday for a table read.

$400,000 a week - a WEEK!! - to sit in a comfy voice studio and read lines written on a piece of paper.

Sigh. I'm in the wrong business.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I got to get me one of those

There apparently is some controversy over whether this is from some goofy guy who put up this YouTube of his girlfriend ostensibly playing the Wii Fit hula hoop game in her undies or is actually viral marketing (you know those sneaky viral marketers) for the Wii video game machine. Either way, it is quite the selling point.

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