7.9.08

Microsoft Mice - Say Goodbye to Laser

Say Goodbye to Laser

According to Microsoft’s hardware web site, in a couple of days we can expect some new “groundbreaking” technology for tracking mouse movements and new devices that employ that technology. The real question is: do we really need one?

First optical mice appeared in 1980’s and used either infrared or visible light LEDs and required special surfaces with printed lines or dot grids to operate. Modern optical mice work on similar principle, but do not require special surfaces and can operate on almost anything from plain white paper to your bed covering. Of course, experiences were not as perfect as manufacturers expected (and promised on numerous occasions) which led to frustrated users. How many times have you tried to show something to your colleague and found yourself waving with the mouse all over the table just to make it move an inch?

Now Microsoft is promising new technology that should alleviate us from burdens of finding just the right surface to run your mouse on. If the add from Microsoft’s web site is to be trusted, these new devices will work on curved chair tops, rugged surfaces like carpets or outdoor tables, glossy and reflective like kitchen table tops, well the time will tell…

 

My personal complaint was never that mice don’t work on some surface, but rather their response and precision. Being a laptop user from almost a decade (and a Microsoft Mouse fan even longer), I was always looking for a wireless solutions.

First wireless devices used big ugly receivers connected through even more unpractical 30 feet long USB cable, which were everything but portable. My first truly mobile mouse was Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer for Bluetooth which was everything I was looking for at the time: sized like normal desktop mouse, had long battery life, ergonomically shaped and Bluetooth connectable.

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The drawbacks were slow responsiveness, occasional disconnects (some kind of sleep mode), slow reconnects, and no power switch (which led to battery discharging while being moved in bag).

Nowadays I’m using Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 (in laptop bag when traveling) and Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 (office desktop). Both use invisible 850nm laser LED (Microsoft’s High Definition Laser Technology), both have power switch, but the first one uses Bluetooth and the later RF wireless connection. Although both are exceptional devices they still perform occasional disconnects and have cursor movement slowdowns. But that’s not the worst of things. Each is tuned differently (speed and mouse scroll) and whenever I use the other one on my laptop I have to configure its speed in Mouse configuration Control Panel. Now someone will say this is like comparing apples and pears, but this is something that really bothers me…

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Will this “new” technology from Microsoft Hardware make any difference will see next week, until then this was my 5¢

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6.9.08

Internet Explorer 8 - in Beta 2 NOW! What do you like the most about it?

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Considering that most of MS's "hot" products were RTMed last year (and some this, like SQL 2008) the question was how would Microsoft fill this year's void... Well, here comes the IE8! Most certainly it will be the hottest product coming from Microsoft’s workshops and currently you can download Beta 2 version of IE2, which I earnestly recommend.

Knowing the history with Microsoft's web browsers, I was, at first, a bit skeptical, but now... Well, read on.

Installation on my Vista x64 was a breeze. Immediately after starting you're introduced to familiar interface like that of IE7, but just a little bit better. It's not so roundy and bulky as IE7, but rather sharp and all about business. It was nice to see numerous, almost invisible, UI improvements that make using this application so more enjoyable.

On the other hand, no one actually uses web browsers because they are "smooth", "nice" or "enjoyable", but because they work, they are fast, they don't complain...

There are numerous new features built in new IE about which you can read about around the web (like Arlindo's blog), and with which I will not bother you. I'll just mention that I like its speed (yes, it's actually faster), its assisted search capabilities, IE7 compatibility button and new built-in Developer Tools.

But the thing I like the most is IE8 crashing. Yes, you've read that right, I like how IE8 crashes!

Let's be reasonable... Web browsers crash, they'll still crash next year, and they'll crash in the future... The problem doesn't lie only with browser or it's implementation but also with web page programming. There are most probably several hundred potential reasons why browser crashed in any given session and it's virtually impossible to predict every one of them.

One of most horrific situations I encountered was IE7 crashing while having 8 or more different web pages open in IE7 tabs. You can imagine how painful it was to recover most of those to resume what I was searching for before.

So Microsoft built a "crash recovery" feature in IE8 (available in Beta 2). Now when a crash occurs IE8 won't close the browser but rather restart just the tab in which crash occurred. Even better, IE8 will leave the restarted tab in the position where it was when the crash occurred. Fantastic, is all I can say! Not worthy

 

How does that actually work? Instead of one process IE8 starts new "iexplore.exe" process for every tab you open and one extra for IE8 window. So if you have 2 tabs open, you'll have 3 iexplore.exe processes running. Even if your computer crashes during web browsing, next time you start IE8, it will know which pages you had open and offer to reopen them. Marvelous!

One thing is certain: I'm never going back to IE7!

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