07 January, 2006

Now you can Skype in video too.

I've been taking a look at the next generation in IM programs, and came across this link: Skype - The whole world can talk for free. Not only that, they can even see each other for free. Or so it goes, at least for Windows XP machines. Not sure about anything else. On my machine, it's a bit moot, as I've only got a dialup modem, so I'd get about three pictures during the span of my five minute conversation. Can't get silk out of a sows' ear.

I got given a gift the other day - a box - green. With a pretty logo on. Inside, it had an orange folder, with a CD in it. A pretty CD, with lots of logos and authentication logos on it. By now, you've probably figured out that I got given what some consider a mixed blessing, and some others consider a downright curse. Yep, Windows XP Home. It was even legal! Over the past three days or so, I've had a play, and it's not totally horrible. I've had to tinker just to get it installed, mind you. Then, once I got it installed, I had to tinker a little more to get it like I want. Interface tweaks, mainly - shifting the taskbar to the top of the screen, making it hide itself, changing the screen resolution and background, stuff like that. Then I went to the updates website for it, grabbed the required updates (only 19.2MB, people! Wow!) and grabbed a couple of Google extensions I'd been wanting to try out. I suspect the Microsoft Anti-SpyWare program might cost a little more than I want to spend on a program, given that Ad-Aware is free, however I'm trying out the beta and it's ...erm, okay. Does what it's (probably) supposed to do. It's due to time out in July, but until then, I'll see just how it behaves.

I still don't have a really compelling reason to shift to XP full time, even though it's more stable than Windows 98. I think Microsoft simply have to change their pricing and anti-piracy visions; but that'll never change. They're a commercial entity who thinks there's too much to lose by doing so. I'm not entirely sure I agree. Ah, blow it. No, I don't agree at all, but then I'm not a major company who literally owns billions of US dollars and has control over possibly (my guess) hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. I still have complaints about the way programs can be suddenly killed purely because an applet doesn't do the right thing. A case in point: after I downloaded the patches (and installed them), I went back to the Windows Update site the next day, to install the patch for the recent Windows Metafile Format exploit. I got to the page that showed me two buttons for selecting what upgrades I wanted to install, and that's where things got tricky.

If I clicked on either button, I got a refreshed page, and a progress bar that ticked along for about a minute or so (normally it takes longer than that); then I got the dreaded "Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience." And no matter what I did, I couldn't get to the correct page to download the WMF fix that Microsoft released. At least not through the Updates webpage I was trying to use. Every time I tried, I kept getting the same dialog. I eventually got there by changing users, and going back there. This time it worked, but I don't know why the other user didn't work, as both users were administrators of the machine. That's one example of why I don't like Microsoft's programming.

Anyhow, 'nuff said. Later, all.