I Hate Macromedia


At work I'm started using a new desktop PC after having previously used a laptop for six months and a Mac for six months before that. While using the Mac I had my boss get Dreamweaver MX 2004 and when I moved to the laptop I used a different tool instead as I was annoyed with Dreamweaver.

Anyway, I installed Dreamweaver on my new PC on Tuesday. You have to activate Macromedia's software within 30 days of installing it so I tried to do it over the internet only to have it fail. I called their activation phone line, spent five minutes entering numbers and stuff only to be told the license had been activated too many times and I needed to speak with a support person. I waited on hold for several minutes and was then told they were too busy to speak with me so I had to leave a message. I did that and a day later got a call back. They wanted to know what the problem was, so I explained it. I was told that the Dreamweaver license only lets you run the software on one platform - Windows or Mac OS, but within that one platform you could reinstall it several times. To get the license "changed" I basically have to transfer the license to myself on the new platform. Due to the nature of the problem I had to be transferred to another person who specialized in these problems. Another few minutes of hold music later I explained everything again to this new person to be told again that yes, Dreamweaver could only be used on one platform and that yes, I would have to transfer the license to myself before I could use it on the PC. So I have to load the Mac back up, run Dreamweaver from there and run a menu option to tranfer it. Then call them back again. Oh, and by the way please have my credit card ready when I call back as there's a $25 transfer fee.

This sure makes me wonder why I bother trying to keep my software legal.

UPDATE: Problem solved. There's a menu in Dreamweaver to "transfer license", and after doing that I called Macromedia back. They were about to ask for the credit card number when I started complaining, and after enough complaints they waved the fee. Argh.

Best keyboard ever?


Well, for under $50 anyway...

Kensington Comfort Type Multimedia Keyboard

Recently to match the new PC upgrade we did I picked up a new keyboard after seeing one at CompUSA. Its made by Kensington, a company that has been around for what seems like forever (at least in IT-world terms, i.e. 15-20 years) and at first glance seems the same as any other on the market with its multimedia keys and fairly generic layout. However, after laying your fingers on its keys you notice something different - the keys are slanted!

Those kooky folks at Kensington must have spent way too much time looking over people's shoulders while typing. It seems they noticed that when most people type their hands tend to angle away from each other with the backs of the hands pointing over the typists shoulders and fingers pointing inwards. Go put your hands on a keyboard, let them rest and see what way they lie. So they took this knowledge and designed a keyboard that slants in the direction your fingers are pointing.

The first time I saw the keyboard it seemed a bit strange but typing on it for a few seconds, even not plugged into anything, I could immediately tell that it fit my natural typing position better than the generic un-slanted keyboard, and so the next time I was at the store I got one.

The only negative side I can see is that the back-slash / pipe key, which is usually above the enter key, is positioned beneath the enter key. This has the awkward effect of both having to re-train yourself to a new location for a key often used by geeks (i.e. me), and also making the right shift key narrower. I'll live, but I wish they left it where it should be.

Lastly it must be mentioned that this is a PS/2 keyboard, i.e. that little round connector which has been standard on PCs for ten years or so. Personally I think that it should be USB as standard, USB has been on PCs since the late '90s and there's no excuse these days for not shipping devices that are USB compatible, at the very least bundling an adapter. Heck, our new computer has about ten USB connectors, never mind using a USB hub.

Kensington sell multiple varieties of the keyboard, with this one ranking at the $20 mark with two others available without the multimedia keys - one beige PS/2-only keyboard for $15 and a black PS/2-USB one for $20.

So next time you are looking for a keyboard I suggest seeking one out and giving it a spin, you might just like it.

Some useful Windows software


Here's a list of some useful software for Windows.

AbiWord is a slimline yet powerful word processor that I've used in the past. It can open files from Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org, meaning you can open files that most other people send you. Did I mention that its free? :) We just got a new eight-year-old laptop (quite slow, little memory) and we're going to use this over the other options.

Irfanview is a simple image, sound and movie file viewer. Its free for personal use but you need to pay for it for commercial use. Anyway, it can view just about any picture under the sun, and then some.

Firefox is the best web browser for your computer. Forget Internet Explorer, pop-ups and the security problems that come with them, this web browser is simple, fast and a smaller download than anything I've seen before.

That's all for now folks



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