Well, I’ve been skeptical about what Google is trying to do. I love Gmail but I’ve held off really trying out their other products. But recently I was running a beta of Excel 2007 and it expired so I was left without a spreadsheet program. I decided to give Google spreadsheets a try.

At first I got what I expected – much of Excel’s basic functionality while feeling a little less responsive than a desktop app. I mean, for a web app they’ve done a remarkably good job, but it’s still not the same as a rich desktop application. But then I discovered two excellent features that I didn’t expect.

The first came after I had been working on a spreadsheet for a while and realized that I had it so screwed up I wanted to go back to the beginning. I was just about to close and re-open the spreadsheet when I noticed the “Revisions” tab at the top. I clicked on this and – hey what do you know – just about every change I made was automatically saved as a revision. I flipped through the revisions, found the place I wanted, and overwrote my f’d up version with a clean version. Now that’s something you don’t get in Excel.

The next thing that happened (which prompted me to write this blog post) is that I was making a change when all of a sudden I lost my internet connection (damn netgear wireless crap). Now I’m thinking “ugh – lots of rework” but all of a sudden Google pops up a little box that says “uh hey – you don’t have connection. you want to work offline or try and reconnect?”. Wow – ok, let’s see how this works. I reboot my router, get my connection back, click the “try and reconnect” option, and I’m back and running. No lost data – nothing. Everything is exactly as if I had never lost connection in the first place. Now that’s slick!

So I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on giving up Excel but I have to say that if Google keeps going the way they are going with innovative features and solid design, I might just be tempted.

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Vista “Hacked”

August 7, 2006

A researcher at the Black Hat security conference showed how to hack the new Vista OS.  Admittedly the OS does warn the user about the potential threat, but as long as the user has admin rights to the machine (which most users have to their own personal laptops or desktops) the OS lets them execute the code.

“I just hit accept,” Rutkowska replied to a question from the audience about how she bypassed UAC. Because of the many security pop-ups in Windows, many users will do the same without realizing what they are allowing, she said.

This gets back to my previous post about IE security.  Simply warning the user isn’t going to cut it.  And too many warnings is going to make the user do stupid things.  I hope MS can come up with a better approach.

Read more here.

IE 7 Security BS

July 25, 2006

Okay. I’ve been using IE 7 for a couple weeks now and I have to say that MS has totally gone overboard with all the security BS. Every damn 5 minutes I’m getting another little pop up asking me if I really want to display some content. Here’s where I think MS is missing the mark:

  1. When content is blocked and I want to know what content and why, all I get is some generic BS help content from MS about why security is a good thing and the Info Bar is helping me stay secure. It gives me virtually no information that helps me decide whether or not I want to take the big risk and show the blocked content.Just this evening I was browsing around this site and all of a sudden none of the images or CSS would download. They were being blocked by IE. But when I tried to figure out why, IE didn’t give me any information. Knowing that this site is safe and that obviously the images and CSS were being blocked (probably because their loaded on the fly or something) I figured it was fine to let them download. But someone who isn’t a web dev or computer savvy individual likely won’t know this.
  2. Which brings me to my next point. Moving the decision about what is and isn’t safe to the user is not necessarily a good thing. I can envision my dad browsing to a web site and IE basically saying “uh… hey dude. some stuff here doesn’t seem that safe. think i should download it?”. And my dad is saying “why are you asking me?! you’re the computer – i don’t know about this stuff!”.

See when IE starts asking you about every little thing you just start to get desensitized to it and accept everything (at least I do). I mean when I get warnings about blocked content from sites I KNOW are safe (like wordpress for example) it makes me think that I can probably go ahead and display blocked content from other sites too. “Nothing bad happened when I loaded the content over there, it will probably be fine here too.”

It just seems to me that MS shouldn’t be asking me to make these decisions. You’re the computer. You tell me what’s safe and what isn’t.

Oh – one more thing. I got this warning today. Priceless. (click the image to see it full size)
ie-security.png

Sad…

July 2, 2006

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