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This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Filed under 'microsoft'

July 28, 2010

Xbox Engineering Blog: Achievements Unlocked

Interesting piece on the creation of the Xbox 360 achievements system.

July 31, 2009

Move to Windows 7

From the “Holy Shit! Are You Fucking Kidding Me‽” department: Windows XP users will have to format their hard drives and do clean installs to upgrade to Windows 7 — there is no “upgrade” option that keeps their installed programs intact.

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July 29, 2009

Upgrade Xbox 360 hard drive

How to upgrade an XBox 360 hard drive from 20Gb to 120Gb without paying MS a stupid amount of premium for it coming in a plastic shell. I just did this and it was a pain in the ass, but I saved over $100. I think that was worth it!

December 31, 2008

30GB Zune apocalypse arrives as devices enter digital coma

All 30Gb Zunes go kaput simultaneously. The only reason these devices care what day it is? The secure clock used by their DRM.

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December 10, 2008

Softwear by Microsoft, A Clothing Line

Microsoft would like to sell you the billg mugshot on a T-shirt. Bizarre.

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September 15, 2008

Penny Arcade! - Consensus

A pretty accurate representation of the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft ads.

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June 25, 2008

An epic Bill Gates e-mail rant

Even billg gets frustrated by the pain of Windows Update.

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March 4, 2008

John Resig - Unbreaking the Web

The real reason for Microsoft’s switch to web standards in IE8? John thinks he’s found it.

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February 17, 2008

Music using ONLY sounds from Windows XP and 98!

Posted mostly because it’s clever, but also because I miss hacking on MOD files.

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February 12, 2008

YouTube - Rabbit Rescue

Amy Sedaris and some bunnies do some top-notch pimping for Microsoft Office.

February 6, 2008

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter

From the “Are you fucking KIDDING me‽” files: After paying $350 for an XBox 360, you have to fork out another $100 to connect it to wi-fi?

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February 1, 2008

List of companies acquired by Microsoft Corporation - Wikipedia

I’ll take “Companies that have died on the vine” for $400 please, Alex.

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January 31, 2008

Windows Vista Help: Opening the Windows Vista box

Official Microsoft documentation on how to open the Vista packaging. Because it *needs* documentation.

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December 17, 2007

Review: Windows XP - Coding Sanity

“I have finally decided to take the plunge. Last night I upgraded my Vista desktop machine to Windows XP”

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December 12, 2007

IronPython Studio

Free development environment for Python code under .NET. Will definitely be having an in-depth play with this soon.

December 4, 2007

BBC NEWS | 'Kill switch' dropped from Vista

“Microsoft says its efforts have seen a drop in piracy of its software.” Alternatively, the fact that no-one *wants* Vista could be a factor.

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November 30, 2007

Dash Update deets revealed: DivX support, child account and Live ID problem fixed - Xbox 360 Fanboy

XBox 360 adds native DiVX playback. Between this, Rock Band and Space Giraffe, the XBox 360 is slowly tipping from “If someone gave me a free one, I’d sell it on eBay” (where the PS3 still lives) to “Hmmm… If I could pick up a cheap one….”

I’m not yet at a stage where I care enough to work out what the differences between all the different models are, though. Perfect example of the Paradox of Choice, there.

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October 23, 2007

Vista Is Still Plagued by Incompatibilities - Yahoo! News

“Vista has an aroma like [Windows] ME, and I am not interested in getting sick again.” Ooh, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s pretty true. Vista and ME are not dissimilar in their not-worth-the-hassle-of-upgrading-ness.

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September 25, 2007

Bug in Excel 2007 - microsoft.public.excel | Google Groups

Wow — Calculations in Excel 2007 that come to 65,535 get displayed as 100,000. “Oops”

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September 21, 2007

Shell Blog : The UI design minefield - er... flower field??

The problems with cultural-sensitivity when you’re shipping something worldwide.

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September 4, 2007

Steven Poole - Goodbye, cruel Word

“Many people agree that revision 5.1a, specifically, was the best version of Word that Microsoft has ever shipped, combining utility and minimalist elegance with reliability. Sadly for me … I “upgraded” to Word 98, and somehow the magic was gone.”

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August 28, 2007

Amazon.com: Microsoft Ladies Laptop Tote - Madison

Joy just got one of these, and it’s pretty impressive. A feminine-looking tote bag, which gives no indication that inside is plenty of padding and pockets for your laptop, powerpack, and assorted other gadgetry.

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August 27, 2007

Lenovo Support & downloads - Downgrading from Windows Vista to Windows XP

Lenovo offering disks to let you “downgrade” your newly-purchased Vista-running laptop to XP. Prediction: These will be very popular.

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August 20, 2007

Even the Office 2007 box has a learning curve - Joel on Software

As someone who installed Vista on a PC in January, and regretted it for months, I echo Joel Spolsky’s summation: “I’ve been using Vista on my home laptop since it shipped, and can say with some conviction that nobody should be using it as their primary operating system — it simply has no redeeming merits to overcome the compatibility headaches it causes.”

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August 9, 2007

Silverlight spotted in the wild

Silverlight spotted in the wild

This is the first time I've seen Microsoft's Flash-killer Silverlight plugin used on a genuine, non-Microsoft-demo website. MLB are using it to play video.

(Incidentally, how much do I regret deciding to favour getting sleep over finishing watching the game last night? Stupid west-coast games)

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July 27, 2007

Very slow internet browsing - Vista x64 Forums

“netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled” — The magic incantation that stops network performance SUCKING BALLS (at least on the RhymesWithNose network) in Vista.

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May 30, 2007

Microsoft Surface

MS’s entry into the multitouch world. Very much positioned as a whizzy demo kiosk, much like touchscreens were twenty years ago.

May 2, 2007

Silly season [dive into mark]

Beautiful summation of the current Adobe Apollo/Microsoft Silverlight hype-off from Mark Pilgrim. “That poster may as well be titled “Fucked 6 Ways From Sunday,” because that’s what you’ll be if you buy into any of this.”

April 17, 2007

Port 25 : Windows Media Player Firefox Plugin - Download

From the “about bloody time” file, a plugin from Microsoft for Firefox which allows WMV files to stream in your browser. This has been broken (and required lots of DLL copying) for years.

February 13, 2007


I’ve seen a bunch of links to instructions on how to install the Vista “Upgrade” edition on a PC without an existing Windows partition, something that theoretically shouldn’t be allowed.

I can’t help but feel that this is nothing new—It reminded me of something a friend at Uni was told by Microsoft support 10 years ago.

After a catastrophic PC failure, he was reinstalling software. He had the Office 95 upgrade disc, which required you to insert the installation disk from an earlier version of one of the Office tools to “prove” that you were upgrading. Unfortunately, he’d left all the old disks at his parents’ house.

So, after calling round friends in something of a panic (there was no doubt a paper due) to see if anyone had an old office disk (no-one did), he called up Microsoft support to ask what he could do.

“Oh, when you’re asked to point to an old installation disk,” he was told, “just point it to the Office 95 disk you’re currently installing from. That will work.”

And it did.

February 7, 2007

Perpetual Motion: FireFox Identity Selector Extension

CardSpace plugin for Firefox for Windows. Uses the underlying Windows CardSpace system interface, so it works with all the other (ahem) applications using CardSpace on your PC.

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February 6, 2007


I’m trying to make sense of CardSpace so I can understand what today’s OpenID announcement means. Here is the only site I’ve found on the whole bloody internet which uses a CardSpace login — and it’s merely a demo site.

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brad's life - Microsoft & OpenID

MS are announcing CardSpace authentication for OpenID. Of course, five bucks says this goes the “embrace & extend” way of Microsoft “supporting” SPF two years ago.

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February 2, 2007

Bill Gates on Vista and Apple's 'Lying' Ads - Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com

Bill Gates trolls the Apple fanboy. “Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.” I had to double-check this wasn’t some “Fake Steve”-style spoof!

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January 31, 2007

Seth's Blog: Wow!

Nothing says “Wow!” like seven aging men in suits.

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January 30, 2007

YouTube - Bill Gates in South Park

In celebration of BillG telling us all about how great Vista is today, here’s his appearance from the South Park movie, telling us all how great Windows 98 is.

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December 8, 2006

Pirates crack Vista Activation Server | APC Magazine

MS try to avoid the “Volume License Key” fiasco of XP (if you used FCKGW, or another volume key to install XP, you didn’t have to go through “activation” - ie. phoning into their servers) by not issuing volume keys for Vista. Instead, they created a server that enterprises could run, and installations of Vista would phone into local servers. Someone gets hold of said server, creates a VMWare image, voila! Anyone can install Vista without having to activate! Cat, meet mouse. Mouse, meet cat. Fight!

November 28, 2006

The Power of Together

Sit through three “webcasts” on “exciting” “new” Microsoft “technology”, and get a free legitimate license for Windows Vista and/or Office 2007.

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November 14, 2006

CNN.com Video: Microsoft's Zune released

Ouch. I’m not sure Microsoft will be happy that their launch-day feature on CNN features incredulent hosts (“Who do they think is going to buy this?”), one of whom ends the segment raving about her new teeny iPod Shuffle.

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Installing the Zune... sucked - Engadget

Wow. Microsoft make it clear that, however rushed, buggy and miserably unready the Zune software may be, the user experience design was always half-assed.

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November 13, 2006

shell: revealed - Can't drag quicklaunch toolbar to top of desktop

I’m playing with Vista on my laptop, and this “improvement” from Microsoft was pissing me off. Thankfully there is a “solution”. One that is a usability nightmare waiting to happen (drag a folder too close to the edge of the screen, and it becomes a toolbar that is hard to work out how to close).

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Apple Matters | Zune Marketplace's Absurd Pricing Scheme

Microsoft’s “you must buy points in $5 increments” makes sense if you consider credit-card transaction costs (I’m sure Apple loses money if you only buy one 99 cent song at a time — that’s why they batch up your transactions), but the user experience of “1.25 cents per point” is ridiculous, and probably going to bite MS.

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November 10, 2006

NPR : New Windows Has New Sound

NPR segment on the history of the Windows startup sound.

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November 2, 2006


Are you kidding me?! Microsoft didn’t register zune.com before announcing their MP3 player?! Wonder how that will work out for them.

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October 26, 2006

Windows Defender home

MS’s anti-spyware app is out of beta. Go install it on your relatives’ PCs post-haste.

September 8, 2006

Joel on Software: Installing Vista RC1 in VMWare Workstation

This gotcha caught me out too when I was trying to experiment with Vista RC1. Bloody Microsoft.

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September 4, 2006

FairUse4WM - a WM/DRM removal program

I’ve finally had a chance to test this with files downloaded from Napster and Rhapsody’s subscription services, and it does what it says on the tin. The question of interest: If this could be chained to a transcoder that automagically converted downloads to MP3s that can be played on an iPod, would it cause more customers to sign up for PlaysForSure providers, and damage sales at the iTunes Music Store?

September 3, 2006

Ricky Gervais - Microsoft 1 - Google Video

Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent) and Stephen Merchant make a “training” film for Microsoft.

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July 30, 2006

Windows Vista Speech Recognition Demo Gone Awry - Google Video

“Dear aunt, let’s set so double the killer delete select all”

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July 21, 2006

Coming Zune

Microsoft finally confess to the existence of their “Zune” player. Nothing much announced yet; just a teaser site with a man stroking a bunny.

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July 18, 2006

Sysinternals: Acquisition FAQ

Sysinternals (makers of frankly necessary tools that should have been included in Windows) has been purchased by MS. Unlike every other “purchased by MS” story, this one isn’t on April 1st. ‘wget —mirror’ is your friend.

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July 13, 2006

Call Me Fishmeal.: Note to Bill Gates: I'll take your bet, for $10,000.

Bill Gates says that it’s a 80% chance that Vista will ship in January. Mac developer Wil Shipley offers to take billg up on that bet.

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July 6, 2006

ODF Add-in for Word 2007

Microsoft-funded open-source plugin for MS Word 2007 which allows the opening (but not yet saving) of documents in OpenOffice’s Open Document Format.

May 27, 2006

fontblog : Interrobang?! — Interrobang!?

Microsoft have been sneaking the Interrobang glyph into their latest fonts. Who’d have thunk it‽

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May 26, 2006

Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats (Beta 2)

Microsoft make good on their promise — This download allows users of Office 2003 to save and open the new zipped-XML file formats.

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Tell Us What You Think About Office 2007 Beta 2

The Office 2007 team have a cool feedback-collection tool for their beta (reminiscent of the old “Report a bug” window heading from the WinXP betas).

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May 23, 2006

2007 Microsoft Office System Beta 2: Get the Beta

The first major public release of the next version of Office. Get your grubby hands on the shiny new UI for the first time, and try to imagine how you’re going to explain it to your parents over the phone.

May 19, 2006

Curmudgeon Gamer: History of Console Prices

Absolute and relative pricing of consoles on their US launches. Interesting fact: Every Nintendo console (NES, SNES, N64 and Gamecube) has launched at the $200 mark. Wonder what the Wii will cost…

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May 15, 2006

Life After the Video Game Crash

Fun rant predicting an impending crash. “We’ve now advanced from realistic 3D to slightly prettier 3D and… even slightlier prettier 3D with slightly better reflection effects and slightly better animated water ripples and - oh, look! This game has the most realistic fog yet!”

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DailyTech - Pirate Windows? Buy The Retail Version at a $100 Discount

If MS detect you running a pirate copy of Windows XP, they’ll try to sell you a discounted legal copy. Smart.

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March 16, 2006

Call Me Fishmeal.: This Post is Microsoft Enhanced (TM)

Awesome post about the brokenness of “MIcrosoft Enhanced” cable company PVRs.

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March 9, 2006

Picture This: A New Look For Office

MS unveil their new UI for Office. Curious to see how this works in real life, but the photos look like usability could go either way.

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February 28, 2006

If Microsoft designed the iPod packaging

Pretty much spot-on.

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January 31, 2006

Internet Explorer 7: Beta 2 Preview

Microsoft have released a public beta of IE7. The homepage is a staggeringly fucking awful flash animation, promising “Everything you need, nothing you don’t, and a few things you have yet to imagine”, before displaying a list of Firefox’s features.

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January 26, 2006

Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

I’ve really been enjoying this blog, tellings stories about the planned (radically different) UI for the next version of Microsoft Office. It’s been many years since I’ve been anxiously looking forward to getting my hands on a beta copy of *Office*!

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January 2, 2006

Hex blog: Windows WMF Metafile Vulnerability HotFix


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F-Secure : News from the Lab - It's not a bug, it's a feature

The currently-circulating Windows WMF exploit “probably affects more computers than any other security vulnerability, ever.” Every PC running any version of Windows since 1990 — even if fully patched — is vulnerable!

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November 7, 2005

Visual Studio Express

Microsoft have release the various versions of Visual Studio Express for free. Very smart move on their part — It reduces the cost of Windows programming to essentially zero for those who aren’t willing to pay, and MS can make up the money with their “professional” Team solutions and MSDN subscriptions.

October 28, 2005

Microsoft Office Templates: Crime scenes with shapes

Visio: It’s not just for process flows

September 1, 2005

Microsoft Leaks New Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard

I love Microsoft’s ergonomic keyboards, and am delighted to see that the next model will have the proper Home/End/Delete block layout.

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About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.