July 2005 - Posts
Josh is discussing/suggesting an idea he has for the common problem of the same questions being asked over and over on forums. I've been moderators for different forums for the last 5 years so I have a lot of experience in this area. As Josh mentions, this is a big problem for all types of discussion boards. I've personally never been a fan of newsgroups. Besides the fact they seem so 1997, they don't really have administration that we underlings can participate in. Forums allow other "hired" moderators to push threads around where appropriate, delete duplicates and direct people to the right places. This is better, but still problematic and time consuming.
I think Josh's idea is a good one and really should be implemented, but I think it's just putting a band-aid on the problem instead of trying to fix the base problem, which IMO, is searching and finding what you're really looking for.
My suggestion would be for a way to go further than just saying "this was the best answer" (although this is a good improvement for sure). Once a "best answer" has been identified, allow moderators, employees, MVPs, etc to go in and add specific words (like Keywords for categorizing stuff in Windows Vista) like "IComparible, implment, base, class, compare, behavior" or "file, access, permission, io, read, write, problem", etc to that the "approved, best answer" post had in it (usually words that are in the post, but not necessarily and in no particular order). You could even extend this to as high as the actual forum section and add keywords like "visual basic, vb, .vb, basic, mybase, my" and other keywords to narrow down the search to a specific forum as part of the "smart search". Then, searching can become more categorized and prioritized. I think actually searching by text in a title can sometimes work, but not often, especially when you get titles like "i have vb code problem". :-\
I haven't read through all the comments on Josh's post, so if I'm duplicating what someone already said, please forgive me. However, this proves another good point. If the answer to a question can not be found in say, the first page of search results, the person will probably likely give up and just post the question (as I did, by being a slow reader and giving up and just posting a blog entry about his post without reading through all the comments to see if someone else already said something similar). Better ways of categorizing and searching are, IMHO, the REAL way to fix this problem.
I don't know if anything I've actually said would really improve searching (I'm not sure I'd call myself a search expert), but there's got to be a way to fix the core problem of finding what needs to be found. I'd bet that if you could make it so 80% of people could find the answer to their question (assuming there is an answer at all yet) in the first few entries, there would be no need to force people to search before posting or bring up ad-like results while they're already in the middle of typing up their question. Google is a great example of that. 99% of the time, I find what I'm looking for in the very first page of results. If I have to look further than that, I usually just rephrase my question and try again until I give up and message someone on my Messenger list or e-mail someone.
UPDATE: Damn, so of course, now I've gone back and read the comments on the post and whodathunkit, someone posted almost the same thing I just said. So much for being original! :P
I just saw, Kenny Kerr saying
he will not be at PDC because of financial reasons, but will be at the MVP Summit. This is the exact same thing for me this year, as well as being away from work too long. They are going to let me attend the ASPInsiders Summit however, which I hear should be a great time. I hope everyone at PDC has fun this year. Blog, blog, blog, so I have good stuff to read! :P Anyone at the Summits, look me up...cya!
The IE blog is talking
about the problems with IE 6 and what exactly will be showing up for sure (and what might or might not also show up) in IE 7 Beta 2 (not really any bug fixes or standards support other than the cool new UI in Beta 1). This list is really fantastic. Keep up the good work!
First off, I just wanted to say that Telerik
makes some great controls. Secondly, they have a Windows XP theme for their tab control. This theme is pretty neat, but needs some tweaking to really look perfect and any size with dynamically sized tabs based off of the name of the tab. Someone saw that I had figured it out and asked how to make it look like this
, so I posted the layout and css
. Check it out if you'd like. Btw, Telerik has added a new version of their tab control since and added support for css on the tab separator so you can add some space in between the tabs. My example doesn't do that yet.
Pretty neat idea. Eventually I can see the world getting to a point where there's no way you could not know what's going on in big news someday.
This conjurs up some interesting ideas about how we as consumers can take advantage of the technology that's already out there. Why not hook up some X10 devices (or whatever your choice is) to some sort of event server in your house. When your fridge is out milk, your dog is out of food, your front door opens, your air conditioner is unresponsive, the smoke alarm goes off, whatever, messages are sent to this little server app and based on priorities you've assigned, messages are either sent to your phone or queued up to be sent to you later in the day (maybe when you're on your way home). If you have a phone with GPS, I'm sure you could even write something that triggers of that you're near something, like your home or the store, or whatever and sends it back to your house to check the queue and see if you are supposed to pick something up at the store or warn you that the front door's been open while you're gone. *Falls asleep while day dreaming* If there were only like 32,768 hours in the day! ;)
Just a quick idea and some interesting posts I came across from Kent
. He recently posted a message on recursive CTEs
(great stuff if you haven't looked at it yet in SQL Server 2005). This allows you to bring back hierarchial data from say a single table. This is great, but sometimes reading through that data and doing what you want with it can be a bit intense for whatever tier, other than the UI, needs to do with it. In comes another cool post by Kent
about using SQLXML with hierarchial results. Combine this with the XmlSerializer
to deserialize the resulting hierarchial xml and you've got instant WinFS style object querying. Granted, not as flexible or expandable, but very cool to say the least. *Goes down the stairs to a dark room to plot*
A friend asked me if I remembered the system stored procedure to change the owner of an object. I didn't, so I googled it, but also came across a handy MSKB, INF: SQL Server Procedure to Change Object Owner
It's almost 4 AM here and I'm still up. Am I hardcore or insane? I'll let you be the judge because I already know the truth...ouch! Anywho, this is extremely crude (since I'm short on time), but after installing Beta 1 and just playing with it like any consumer would for a few hours and taking down everything that I notice (bugs, new features, removed features, changes from XP, things I think are cool, etc) and even a few screen shots from some of the things I've been writing down and the follow is what I came up with. I'm sorry it's so crude (this is just copy/paste from notepad and print screens from paint), but I've got to get to bed...you understand! :P
-Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse doesn't work for setup (I'm sure it will work in later builds)
-In the future it would be nice if bluetooth device installation were part of the final start-up process so you can at least use the device instead of being screwed.
-When creating a new partition there is no indication that it's working on building the new partition except for my hard drive light blinking periodically. Would be nice to see a wait cursor or something to let me know it's working.
-Glad to see the entire installation process can be done with just a keyboard now (early Alphas had some "issues")
-I like that there are only two steps to get it installing
-Not sure why the installation is even laid out into two steps. What's the point of steps if there's only two? Why not just say at the beginning that we need to collect some information before installation can begin. Then installation just begins and goes from there with the progress bar.
-Pet Peeve: Completing installation screen should not use the poor man's progress bar (progress bar moves at a set and constant rate and starts over in a loop until windows is done). I know this is a beta, just saying... ;)
-Total installation time was approximately 2 hours...not bad.
-Pretty dialog movement (zooms in and out [kind of mac'ish])
-Sound didn't install (to be expected)
-Switching to 1600x1200 on my nVidia GeForce FX 5200 gave a blue screen of death
-Tooltips seem to be a bit smarter and sort of move out of the way. Might be nice if they could be transparent.
-Impressed that it already showed my batter backup that's connected via USB and it's status. XP never did that.
-Bluetooth device wizard has some bug still that XP did where you can't tab to the device selection box once the device is found. This is crucial if you don't have a mouse hooked up at all other than your bluetooth mouse that you're trying to add.
-The Aero skin is very cool
-The transparent bar and border do a neat effect with bluring what's behind it like plastic. It's even more transparent towards the center than the edges.
-Rollover is cool for window buttons (LED glow effect)
-Shell acts like a browser and shows that it's "loading" in the address bar
-MSN Desktop Search appears to have become Windows Search (looks very similar)
-Presentation Mode in System Tray
-Broadcast a Presentation (doesn't work, what a tease)
-Close Button for window is bigger than minimize and maximize
-Display Properties -> Desktop Tab -> Background -> Position is automatic now
-Search in start bar
-UAP (Allows you to run under a non-administrative account all the time, then when administrative privelages are needed, it will prompt you for the password...very cool)
-Neat Categorizations (True the day of folders is ending for Windows users, but why call them virtual folders? Is my mom going to understand what that is?)
-Auxiliary Display? Huh?
-Programs (Manage the programs on your machine, updates, etc)
-Solutions to Problems (Manage History of Problems, check up on resolutions, etc)
-Notepad gets a new icon!
-Pretty fast for the most part
-All Programs fills up start window instead of a popup menu and adds a back button (great!) The idea of browsing around for what you want is taking over everywhere.
-Can't resolve computers on my local network (possibly related to default settings of windows firewall? Strangely, if I expand "Network" while in an open dialog or other shell locations, I can see the computers on my network that doing a simple ping on, doesn't resolve)
-Remote Desktop confirms that you trust the source you're connecting to and allows you to not allow the remote computer access to your clipboard
-Remote Desktop functions pretty much the same except that your cursor is black instead of white
-Delete file dialog gives you more information and an image preview of what you're deleting if you're only deleting one item
-Keywords on pictures and keyword filtering...very awesome for categorizing your stuff
-New options under customize start menu
-Highlight newly installed programs
-Network (although clicking on this option brings up a blank shell)
-Open submenus when I pause on them with the mouse pointer
-Set Program Access and Defaults
-Sort All Programs menu by name
-Fantastic new file copy dialog
-Open/Save dialogs are now just modal dialog explorer windows (resizable, woohoo, file type dropdown off to the side, all files shown and currently selected file types are highlighted, instead of side bar like in XP for common locations, there's a common locations folder)
-Image Preview (for say a jpg saved on your desktop) shows the exact size and shape (like Photoshop)
-Why isn't timezone selection in setup anymore?
-"My" is completely gone (now called, Computer, Network, Documents)
-You can now have Control Panel show up on your desktop
-Pretty neat that clicking on the separating line of a group in the shell selects all the items in that group
-Trying to run "setup a home or small office network" results in this error...RunDLL, Error loading hnetwiz.dll, The specified module could not be found
-BUG: The top left corner of a window (when maximized) does not activate the window dropdown like in every version of windows before. The Closing "X" isn't in the top right either and it really should be.
-Modal dialog resize problem...When a modal dialog is resized, such as clicking the more options button on the IE Security dialog, the window goes through it's fading in animation again instead of just resizing. Same thing with installation wizards on every step. I understand why it's happening (it must be a whole new window), but there either needs to be a fix for this or some way for developers to get around it.
-Passport setup dialog appears to work (correctly, unlike the above mentioned wizards). It also doesn't show the back button by the next button, but instead shows a browser back button in the top left hand side of the dialog)
-Tab order is messed up on passport setup login dialog (using tab never gets to the password field...apparently it didn't really save my password either because it told me my password was blank, but after entering it again, went in fine)
-Home & End keys don't work in address bar
-MSN Search bar in IE (cool, even lets you use other search engines and add your own)
-Tabbed Browsing (never really cared for the feature, but it seems really interesting. Has a little blank tab you can click to bring up a new tab...nice! New tab brings up blank page and not home page...this is very good! Ctrl+T for new tab...now if I could only drag them and change their order, i'd be set)
-Feed button is there, but nothing like what was demo'd on the channel 9 video. Better luck next beta!
-No more dropdown on back and foward button, just one dropdown that shows the history for the current browser life
-Tools -> Delete Browsing History (All in one shabang...great!)
-IE Team blog in favorites by default, but it just takes you to the RSS feed...wth?
-Funky full screen bugs when you bring it out of full screen mode the top toolbar is double in height
-Weblogs.asp.net New Post Text Editor does not function at all in IE 7
-new progress bar in status bar is neat, but a little distracting
-css support looks good so far, but i haven't actually tested anything, other than running a couple sites to see
Raj is talking about some things that I think are really important...
It's really too bad .NET My Services fell through because it was basically going to do pretty much what Raj is talking about. I think Microsoft has recovered since then though and will work towards this sort of thing but in different ways. What I'm most curious about though is where all "my stuff" will be stored.
When it comes to my stuff and how I keep organized, I can't really say for sure yet, but I've been working on a little application off and on for the last year that I use to store everything that's important to me any way I want to store it and allow myself access to all of it from anywhere. I plan on eventually selling it as I think there's a big need for this type of thing right now and in the future. What would the ideal situation be for you? Would you trust a company storing your stuff? Would you only do it if you could store it yourself? Are some things more important than others (for storage location)? If the future of computing is a blank slate and you could have anything you wanted; How would you see yourself keeping organized and storing your stuff? Let me know what you think! I have quite a few opinions on this type of thing and I'm curious what others think and/or are currently using. No, post-it notes don't count! ;)
So I've seen a few people
talking about it
, but not too many yet (at least on weblogs) so I thought I'd mention a few things about it I've noticed. So far I think Microsoft's got a really great start. I still like Google
a bit better, but mostly just because it has a cleaner feel to it. The fact that MSNVE takes up the whole screen, remembers where I was from last time a few other little nice things though is pretty awesome. The blog it on the scratch pad is pretty neat too, but what if I'm not using MSN Spaces? How does it behave then? I've got to make a serious complaint about the usability of some of the UI though. What's up with the Road map, Aerial photo, drop down arrow stuff? If Road map and Aerial photo are supposed to act like radio buttons then make them look like it and if the drop down arrow is globally related to both options, but neither exclusively then don't make it look like it's part of the Aerial photo link. This is a good example of how a custom interface can look a lot cooler than a standard Windows interface, but be much more confusing because it's not anywhere near "standard". I view things like this in that if I don't instantly understand what's going on (in fact it took a few minutes to figure out what the use of all those was for), then how is my mom going to figure out how to use it? Oh and the Locate Me thing is really cool, but definitely didn't work at all for me. It told me I was in Wisconsin (I'm in Indiana)! :-| Anywho, good job so far, Microsoft...keep improving it! :)
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