One King Bearing Gifts

I got a new laptop on Friday (my old one gave up the ghost
as explained here).

One of the major pains of a new laptop is re-installing all
of those applications. It takes so long, and inevitably you will be working and
you realise that you need another utility, which means you have to interrupt your
flow to grab it and load it. I was more prepared for this installation than I
usually am, I had compiled a list of those applications that I wanted, my
directory structure, and URLs to the files, but I missed plenty (you just
forget some of those things that you use, such as Inno
until you need them).

I am sure that many of you will be saying that if I had
taken a disk image, re-installing would have been a breeze. That may be so, but
I tend to see re-installing as an opportunity, an opportunity to get rid of
much of the crud that accumulates over time, only install the things that you

As one would expect, some things went so smoothly, some
things did not.

Installing Office 2000 and Office 2003 was a breeze, I
remembered that I wanted VBA loaded (yes, I have forgotten it before), and it
loaded so quickly, so effortlessly. I had to do all of the customisations,
remove those stupid restricted menus and always show the full menus. I did get
caught by not giving Trusted Access to Visual Basic, and one of my VBIDE
routines failed, but that was soon rectified.

Office 2007 was no great problem, it took a lot longer than
2000 or 2003, but I guess that is the way that things progress. One of the
pleasing things is the way that many settings seem to get inherited by all
versions. I know this may seem like heresy, but I have missed 2007. I can’t say
I am a fan of the Ribbon as I think it is a mis-guided concept and is
restrictive and inefficient, and there are many things broken in 2007, but
since I have loaded it I have tended to use 2007 as my default Excel. As I have
said previously, I have enjoyed using Excel
but I heave eased into 2007. I have also adopted Outlook 2007, but one
email client isn’t much different to another is it? Word 2007 still grates with
me, it seems perverse (but Word has always seemed perverse to me, just look at
how it keeps messing bullet lists up). Building the QAT back up was far time
consuming than I would like. I know Jon Peltier doesn’t believe in customising
the QAT, he says that is subverting to MS’ ribbon philosophy, but I find that I
have to have my most frequent functions on hand.

But why oh why do all new applications get added to the foot
of the program list? Why doesn’t it get slotted in alphabetically. The bottom
is usually the last place I want it.

And while we are at it, why is the Quick Launch toolbar
hidden in XP, and locked down to boot?

One thing that went remarkably smoothly was my Firefox
bookmarks. I use XMarks to synchronise my
bookmarks, so a quick login to XMarks, tell it to synchronise with this laptop
and remove all existing bookmarks, and I was up and running. All of my
bookmarks, all of my RSS feeds were re-installed in minutes, and XMarks will
keep me up to date ready for my next laptop crash (thanks Aidan!).

It took me a while, but I am back and active now. I am sure
more things will arise over the next few weeks (I still need to add another
partition and install Windows 7 dual boot), but essentially we are there.

One thing to finish with. Where we would we be without free software,
open source and not. The following is a list f some of the free software I have
loaded and use regularly

Inno Setup
Belarc Advisor
Code Cleaner

Plus others that I am sure that I have missed
(so, Mike
, with quality free products like this, why shouldn’t  corporations trust them?)


20 thoughts on “One King Bearing Gifts

  1. Bob: I can’t believe I’ve missed your Blog! I’ve been reading your past posts and I’m kicking myself for not finding you sooner.

    As for the open source apps…I never said that corporations *shouldn’t* trust them.

    I merely said that corporations will never give up the years of time and resources invested in Microsoft products to jump onto a new “Open Source” alternative (just because they’re free).

    I primarily had Google spreadsheets and Open Office in mind when I said this.

    I personally use Inno Setup, FileZilla, and FireFox. I’ve recently have become enamored with Skype. I think these utilities are brilliant.

    But I submit that a large majority of IT departments would not readily deploy or support the any of the Open Source products you have listed here.

    My argument is not that companies shouldn’t trust open source. My argument is that no large Microsoft shop will ditch Microsoft products to jump on Open Source just because it’s free. Just won’t happen.

  2. It’s okay Mike, I was just trying to recruit another reader by naming you and drawing you in (anyway, all publicity is good publicity, and hopefully if any of my 10 followers hadn’t heard the podcast before, they will have now). It was also in reaction to a remark you made about open source software. I know it is partly your way (like your use of sexy) and I cannot remember it exactly so it cannot be a big deal, but I didn’t agree with it.

    I agree with you about the cloud though. I think that MS are doing their usual arriving late to the party thing where they don’t really understand the beast but jump on with their size 9s in fear of missing out (remember the Internet, remember XML). However I do think that any serious evaluation of software nowadays should also consider any leading open source contenders.

  3. Yeah, I figured the word ‘Sexy’ gets lost in translation a bit.

    In the US corporate world, the word ‘sexy’ is used often to indicate an attractive or lucrative connotation.

    As in “Apps development is the sexy side of our business”.

    I remember a few years ago, Tony Blair was accused of “sexing up the data” on Iraq.

    I can understand how it can sound vulgar to anyone who hasn’t heard these terms casually bandied about.

  4. Bob –

    I’ve almost always got my important tools at my fingertips, but then, I hardly use 2007 unless a client dictates it.

    Mike –

    Open source is only “free” in terms of initial cost of acquisition. Once you have to install and support it, it costs probably more than a commercial product. You and I can handle things like Inno Setup and FileZilla and the like, but IT guys don’t like deploying things like that across a company.

  5. Hey Daniel,

    Not come across that before, but looking at the site, I have to agree with one referenced paper that said … The American-British language based Heise website ( is somewhat confusing to understand, but their script is useful and straightforward … Can’t argue with that.

    Would I be right in assuming that what it does essentially is create an up-to-date ISO file for XP, all patches and so on? If so, that is useful, but not my main problem. Installing XP is simple, adding all of the patches is time-consuming, but also simple; no, it is all of the rest that takes the time.

  6. Jon,

    I know your views on 2007, and being a heavy charting guy I can understand the frustration with what MS did there, but do you have the same view of 2010?

  7. Mike,

    Sexy tends to be used the same way here in the UK, I guess it is more odd to non-native speakers. ANyway, Tony Blair didn’t sex up the data, he just plain lied about it. We find now that the 45 minutes war did not apply to weapons, just to munitions, but no mention about that. Anyway, enough, I am straying off topic.

  8. I’ve got a few dozen .REG files stored on a CD for restoring many of my more obscure settings.

    As for nonfree software, at the risk of bad manners I’ll make a plug for Scooter Sorftware’s Beyond Compare, which is a 2-pane file manager with built-in file comparison. This has saved me a lot of trouble over the years.

  9. Hi,

    Bob, I was thinking that too, do you have all the versions on the one box? I’ve had set ups with 2 version before, and got stung a bit – not often. Do you know something I don’t*

    *About this particular issue !!!! 😉

  10. Dennis,

    I will have to admit to not being a ‘real professional’ Excel developer then. I can live with that.


    You almost left me a hostage to fortune 🙂

    Yes I do, and I will say that I get no problems at all. I know you can only have one Outlook, Word is a tad temperamental, but Excel is faultless (startup files aside and that is manageable). I have had 4 versions before, 97, 2000, XP and 2003, and 97, 2000, 2003 and 2007.

    I use VMWare, but I can’t say I find it convenient. I invariably don’t have all of the tools I need (would like) whenever I am in a VM, and sharing files is a hassle. I will have a basic 2000 VM, etc., which I use when I need such, but I don’t use it by default.

  11. Ross:
    Here are some multiple Excel versions install instructions that have worked for me…
    Jim Cone on June 11, 2003 wrote this…
    When installing / using multiple versions of MS suites or applications:

    1. Install the oldest version first
    2. Install each version in a separate folder. ‘<<< Very Important 3. If you want to keep your start menu shortcuts then rename them before installing a newer version. 4. Do a custom install and do not overwrite/replace the older versions. However... 5. Only one version of Outlook can be installed on a single operating system. 6. You specify the default version of the application by registering it using 'Start | Run'. Enter the full file path and name of the program. Note that /regserver is outside the quote marks... "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Excel.exe" /regserver The above registers Excel 97 as the default on most systems. Change the file path / file name as appropriate. If you don't register the application then the last version installed becomes the default. 7. Do Not run multiple application versions at the same time. Close one before opening the other. (some people say multiple versions open at the same time run just fine) 8. MS knowledge base articles follow in no particular order: 292491 - Office Automation When Multiple Versions of Office Are Installed 290576 - OffXP: Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Office 218861 - Off2000: Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Office 214388 - XL2000: Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Excel 292584 - OffXP: Setup Overwrites Start Menu Items from Earlier Versions of office 210391 - Off2000: Setup May Remove Older Components (Just in case) 233499 How To Change the Company Name and User Name After Setup 290528 How To: Change the Company Name and User Name in an Office XP Program 280546 User Name And Company Name In Splash Screen Different From Names In "About" Dialog Box 310441 How to Change Name and Company Information After You Install Windows XP '-- Note: I have four Excel versions installed in separate folders in C:\Program Files... Microsoft Office; Microsoft Office 2000; Microsoft Office 2002; Microsoft Office 2003. Microsoft Office is the default folder for xl97. The other folders I added. Addendum - Dec 12, 2009 - XL2010 does not seem to play nice and I have uninstalled it for the second time. I would follow Microsoft's advice and install it on a separate computer.

  12. I’m thinking of having a bare bones host o/s and a series of VPcs on my next setup, (coming soon – please Santa!)
    I prefer to do all work in 2003 and just test against the other versions so I think virtual is the way to go for me.
    I think if you steer clear of .net/com then dll hell and version clash catastrophe pretty much go away.

  13. Multiple versions may be a bad thing, but the worst thing possible is Excel developers not using the OLDEST version their client’s users would be using. It also helps if they’re also using the OLDEST hardware their client’s users could be using.

    Far fewer problems arise when software developed on old, slow hardware running old software is run on new, fast hardware running newer software versions than the reverse.

    IOW, developers should be the LAST people to upgrade hardware and software.

  14. Dennis,
    I have no idea how my setup works with VSTO. It probably doesn’t, as my system does not include any of the Net.Framework options that MS tries to force on Windows users.
    I doubt if MS can explain what programming language agenda they have or what the goal is. I know I won’t be spending further time/money learning/using their latest (fad) programming language only to be told that it is now obsolete and one should start over again.
    Are they just blundering along trying not to admit they are lost? The following speaks for itself:
    “.NET Framework 3.5…
    installs .NET Framework 2.0 SP1,(installs .NET Framework 2.0 SP2 with 3.5 SP1)
    and .NET Framework 3.0 SP1 (installs .NET Framework 3.0 SP2 with 3.5 SP1),
    which adds some methods and properties to the BCL classes in version 2.0
    which are required for version 3.5 features such as Language Integrated Query (LINQ).
    These changes do not affect applications written for version 2.0, however.”
    Jim Cone

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