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November 2006 - Vol. 6, Issue No. 86

By Scot Finnie

In This Issue

  • Windows Vista and Office 2007 Go Gold
  • Turning Over an Apple Leaf?
  • 60-Second Briefs
       - Mozilla to Give Eudora New Life
       - Firefox 2.0 Rocks, and IE7 Is Much Improved
       - Mixed Impressions on Outpost 4
       - A Few Insights on F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007
       - Power Users Win on Vista Licensing
  • Dot.com Dunderheads
  • Link of the Month: Ed Bott's Microsoft Report Blog
  • Newsletter Schedule
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    Windows Vista and Office 2007 Go Gold
    On Wednesday, Microsoft released Windows Vista to manufacturing. Two days earlier, Office 2007 took the same step. Windows Vista is being distributed to volume-licensing enterprise customers already, with the official enterprise release date being November 30th.

    Also getting the gold code right away are the major OEM PC makers and some independent hardware and software makers. They'll be working with the new version of Windows to support the release of their products to the retail channel.

    The official consumer release date for Vista is January 30th, 2007.

    I spent most of this week co-authoring a large, comprehensive evaluation of Vista's strengths and weaknesses with Preston Gralla: Hands On: A Hard Look at Windows Vista. The story was edited by Computerworld's Valerie Potter. It covers everything from graphical breadcrumbs to that WGA-on-steroids, Software Protection Platform (SPP) — a new anti-piracy measure from Microsoft.

    Also, be sure to check out Computerworld's new Vista page, which offers gobs of deep insight and data about Windows Vista: Windows Vista from A to Z.

    For an excellent analysis of Microsoft's strategy and prospects for continuing to win with Windows in the enterprise, please check out Beyond Vista: Microsoft Hopes to Dominate the Web 2.0 Enterprise by Ben Worthen for CIO.

    On Monday, Microsoft released Office 2007 to manufacturing. You'll find details about the availability, versions, and pricing of Microsoft's new office suite software in Computerworld's Microsoft Office 2007 Released to Manufacturing by Eric Lai and Richard Ericson.

    There have been very few overt changes to Vista since RC1 was released on September 1. In the final bits, new images for some of the Microsoft applet and program icons were revised. There are a couple of new desktop backgrounds. Some aspects of the Welcome Center are better sketched in. This is the level of change; the hard work focused on fixing bugs, as it should be.

    What's Vista feel like? With a PC that fully enables Aero (testing out at 4.0 out of 5 on Vista's PC-performance checking utility), it feels fast. Menus fly open instantaneously. Folders take only a second or two to load. Although programs that haven't already been opened in a session may take a few seconds to run, Vista is noticeably faster than what you probably experience everyday in XP — or what I've seen with clean-installed XP. Make no mistake, the video improvements in Vista are profound, as long as your computer has the right guts to take advantage of them. But the real import of that video power isn't what you see in Vista the operating system, it's what you'll see in applications written for Vista a year from now.

    Most of us who wind up buying retail versions of Vista may be tempted to perform upgrade installations of the new Windows. At least that's what Windows history teaches. There are two surprises there, too. I've been surprised by just how well Vista performs the upgrade installation over Windows XP. Vista's installation process is image based, and works differently than previous versions of Windows. Other improvements include changes to the way Vista manages the registry for legacy applications, which may also help with performance. Windows XP's improvements, such as system file protection, may also be a big help in the upgrade process. All I can say is that the few times I've performed an upgrade installation with post RC2 builds of Vista, it's been a flawless experience.

    The other surprise is that Microsoft is no longer offering the ability to back out of a Windows upgrade with Vista. No self-respecting power user should be without a disk-backup product. (I use an older version of Norton Ghost.) Make your backup to another drive or burned DVD so you're prepared to back out of a failed Vista upgrade.

    There'll be a lot more on Vista when I've had a chance to put the gold code through its paces.

    Top


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    Turning Over an Apple Leaf?
    Windows Vista is in most aspects an excellent operating system. But I've found myself increasingly disturbed by the many ways Microsoft is willing to erode the overall user experience — in most cases in the name of increasing its bottom line.

    I'm talking about aspects like the new upgrade to Microsoft's anti-piracy measures known as Software Protection Platform (which includes a "reduced functionality mode"), the little-detailed digital rights management (DRM) features (if any), and the repetitious frustration of User Account Control (UAC), a security feature that takes an extreme approach to protecting you from potential threats — which probably aren't even there 99.9% of the time.

    My assessment of UAC is that it's a good idea that is badly implemented, even after recent refinements. I think it will have the opposite effect on many Vista desktops; it may deaden users to security risks by asking them too frequently whether they're sure an activity is something they really want to allow or do. UAC will protect Microsoft's image as a purveyor of secure software (or, at least, it might do so). But if it adds any real protection, it will do so at the expense of the user experience.

    My sentiment about the Software Protection Platform anti-piracy measure is that it only serves one entity: Microsoft. For users, it has no advantage, and for some individuals and enterprises, it could be a ticking time bomb waiting to unleash frustration.

    Let's not forget that the dramatic IT breakthrough that drove Wall Street last decade was a significant return on investment in the form of increased user productivity. Moreover, the last time I looked, Microsoft rose to power two and a half decades ago precisely because it helped free users from onerous restrictions on access to computer power. The rise of the PC eventually killed off the minicomputer's dominance of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The software giant should be reading the history of the mistakes its competitors made back then, because it could be chasing down the same path.

    Microsoft invests incredible R&D resources into the products it builds. The company has not only a right but an ethical requirement to get a good return on its investment for its stockholders. But it's not paying attention to the grass roots welling up of frustration over many of its business practices.

    Scratch the surface of millions of forums and blogs on the Internet, even slightly, and you'll find them oozing with angst and disgust about Microsoft's approach to creating, selling, and protecting its products. There is pent-up demand for a change, for a real alternative, especially among more experienced computer users. Moreover, this is not isolated to "consumers" at all. Despite the Windows-oriented policies of many IT shops and the fact that many enterprises have Microsoft DNA deeply embedded in their IT infrastructures, a good portion of the people who manage, run, and toil in IT organizations have become openly contemptuous of Microsoft's products and policies.

    If I could strip out aspects of Vista like Microsoft's aggressive anti-piracy measures, some of its onerous protective mechanisms, and the high cost of Vista Ultimate, I might continue as a more or less content Windows user. But the emergence of Vista has sparked something new inside me, a serious need to explore my alternatives.

    Macintosh Trial Run
    So, about a month ago I decided it was high time to do my homework on other solutions in the only way I know that works: total immersion.

    Beginning this week, for a one-to-three-month period to be determined, I'm making an Apple MacBook Pro my main work and personal computer. I've been slowly building up the software and systems I need to do this (with the excellent help of Computerworld's IT department), including Lotus Notes for the Mac and the migration of my 13-year-old Eudora for Windows installation to the Macintosh. I may rely to some extent on Parallels for the Mac to run some things in an XP virtual machine, especially in the beginning. But the goal is to find Macintosh tools for everything I do in Windows.

    Let me say to those of you who've been reading me for years because of my Windows expertise and insights, I'm not letting go of Windows! I will be echoing my testing on my current Windows production machine — a dual-core ThinkPad T60 — by upgrading to Windows Vista there. I have access to four Macintoshes, three of which are Intel-based. But the more than 15 other machines I use and test with run Windows (and in a few cases, Linux). It's a Windows world, and I'm not dropping out. But I'm committed to giving the Mac a fair shake.

    First Two Weeks
    I had initially planned to change over to the Mac a couple of weeks ago, but problems with the MacBook Pro (MBP) 15 that I received from my company have caused a severe delay. The machine, a six-month-old 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo had just returned from Apple repair because of issues with spontaneous restarts, occurring two or three times a day. It's a problem that has plagued a small percentage of Apple's Intel line of MacBooks. It's not a universal experience, however. Another MacBook Pro 15 that I own has suffered no spontaneous restarts.

    During the first 24 hours with the machine I came to the conclusion that the most likely culprit of my problem was a 1GB RAM SIMM that was added at the time of purchase. I pulled the SIMM on the second day. Wanting to do the legwork myself, I contacted the makers of the SIMM, a company called Edge, and initiated a trouble ticket. Two days later, running on the original 1GB of Apple RAM only, the MBP 15 was free of unwanted restarts. Edge confirmed that we had purchased the correct SIMM module for this machine and that the SIMM must be faulty. It promptly issued an RMA and offered free replacement.

    The next hurdle — and it has proved to be a much bigger hurdle — is Lotus Notes for the Macintosh. IBM is promising better support for the Mac in the Notes 7.x time frame. We're using Notes 6.5.x and other than the pathetic Mac support, it's working just fine, thanks. (Though I may shortly test the Notes 7.02 beta client.) These are the problems that Mac users have to deal with while trying to integrate with IT systems in a corporate environment. With the rise of Web-based enterprise apps, there is hope. Even though Internet Explorer is no longer supported on the Mac, the growing popularity of multi-platform Firefox could mean that Macs have a new, important way to connect with the corporate world. (This is especially true of Firefox 2; see 60-Second Briefs below.)

    Notes has been troublesome on my Mac. During the first several days, I experienced frequent crashes of the Notes client. My Computerworld IT person and I weren't sure whether the problem was due to issues with the MacBook Pro itself or whether it was my Notes installation. We re-installed the Mac OS X 10.4 operating system from the ground up, and then reinstalled Notes and my other corporate applications. The frequency of the Notes crashes diminished significantly, but any crashing isn't acceptable. One evening, I dug into Notes to see how it really works on the Mac. It appears to be an imperfect Windows port, a realization that led me to a simple setting workaround, which — while it isn't necessary on other Lotus Notes Mac clients at Computerworld — worked right away. Because now it ain't broke, I'm not going to fix it further. I'll just move to the 7.02 client as soon as possible.

    That leaves me facing the last major obstacle to my assimilation into MacLand: the wild and crazy steps required to migrate Windows Eudora to Mac Eudora. I've also ordered a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 17, which is due in a week or so. (A big shout-out to Doug Learner for his help with that purchase.)

    I'm far more comfortable with the higher resolution on the MBP 17. The MBP 15 is great as a commuter notebook, since I use a large-screen LCD at work. But when I'm stretched out for serious weekend work away from an external display, the MBP 17 is the machine I need. I'll be duplicating the software on that machine and remote accessing to the MBP 15 for Eudora email as needed. One of the few things I truly admire about Notes is its ability to run on multiple machines and be accessed from any of them. It's the power of a true client/server application. Notes doesn't have a lock on that capability, of course. I might use IMAP with Eudora, for example. But most of my mail hosts don't offer it.

    About other aspects of the Mac: I'm having little trouble adapting to the differences between Windows and the Mac. I was a Mac user from 1987 to 1990 and a Windows and Mac user from 1994 to 1995. OS X is a different operating system from the old Mac System Software. But my Linux experience, though not considerable, has helped me log in and out of root to change system settings on the Mac with relative ease (once I learned where to initiate the authentication). Exploring the way the Mac works is actually fun. I wouldn't call the more esoteric settings intuitive, but they're not difficult to find if you keep at it. If learning Linux esoterica is comparable to doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, the Mac is tantamount to whipping off the crossword puzzle in your local-yokel newspaper. And Windows is somewhere in between.

    My progress on my trial run with a Mac will be reported in future issues of this newsletter. And I expect to wrap up with a final assessment of whether the Mac is a viable alternative for real people with real jobs. You can also expect a similar long-term wrap-up on Windows vista in the months to come.

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    60-Second Briefs
       - Mozilla to Give Eudora New Life
       - Firefox 2.0 Rocks, and IE7 Is Much Improved
       - Mixed Impressions on Outpost 4
       - A Few Insights on F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007
       - Power Users Win on Vista Licensing

    Mozilla to Give Eudora New Life
    I've had a lot of emails from SFNL readers asking me to recommend a new email program. It seems the word that's getting around is that Eudora is dead, but actually the opposite is true. I've got more hope for the future of Eudora right now than I've ever had before.

    On October 11, Qualcomm announced that it was giving up on the commercial development of its Eudora email package, one of the oldest Mac and Windows Internet email clients.

    But that isn't the end of Eudora. Mozilla is picking up a continuing open-source development project for Eudora, called Penelope. You can read about the development plans for Eudora, which will be carried out in tandem with Thunderbird, on Mozilla's Penelope project page.

    Mozilla also has a wish-list page for its forthcoming new open-source version, expected sometime next year.

    Several key, longtime Eudora developers are part of the Mozilla Eudora effort, including Steve Dorner and Jeff Beckley. What that says to me is that the development brain trust of Eudora and the organizational abilities of Mozilla could mean those of us using Eudora could benefit from a much better version of the venerable emailer in a year or two.

    In the meantime, if you're a current Eudora user, I strongly recommend that you shell out the $20 to download the last commercial version of the product, 7.1 for Windows or 6.2.3 for the Mac. I'm using both of them. As a registered user of Eudora for Windows, I didn't even have to pay for the 7.1 Windows version.

    Qualcomm issued a basic FAQ on October 11 that might answer some questions for existing Eudora users.

    Firefox 2.0 Rocks, and IE7 Is Much Improved
    I love Firefox 2, which is an even better upgrade for the Mac than it is for Windows (mostly because Firefox 1.x for the Mac wasn't as good as the Windows version).

    Mozilla's 2.0 version of Firefox is a refinement release. There aren't many wholesale big new features, but it works a lot better overall. The more I use it, the more I like it. Firefox is still my browser of choice.

    Unlike with the Firefox 1.5 release, I'm not hearing about widespread major problems with Firefox 2.0. There are people reporting it runs better in Vista, worse in Vista, and so forth. This conflicted user base assessment of Firefox has existed since the beginning. Part of that may just be how customizable Firefox is with third-party extensions and themes. If you're having trouble with Firefox 2.0, try launching it in its Safe Mode, and make sure the problems still exist that way. Firefox's Safe Mode, which you'll find in its program launch menu or folder, launches the browser with all extensions and themes disabled.

    For more information and a detailed explanation and assessment of Firefox's new features, as well as information about Firefox extensions, please see my Computerworld feature review:

  • Firefox 2.0: Not Radical, but Just Right

    I highly recommend the Firefox 2.0 upgrade. It's probably a very good idea to uninstall your previous Firefox version before you grab it. Your bookmarks, extensions, and themes will all be preserved if you install this way. Firefox leaves those behind in the separate profiles. You will lose stored passwords, history, cache, and program settings. It's worth it to make a clean break, though.

    Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 is also a welcome improvement over its predecessor. It's a no-brainer for most existing IE6 users. Its improved security, tab browsing, and RSS reader features are well worth the 14.8MB download. Many Windows XP users have already been offered it via Automatic Updates.

    I'm installing Firefox on all my computers; I'm also setting up IE7 on most of my Windows machines.

    For more information about IE7, check the Firefox 2.0 review (link above), and be sure to read Preston Gralla's Computerworld review:

  • Just Say Yes to Internet Explorer 7

    And watch for an upcoming comparison review of the best browsers in Computerworld.

    Mixed Impressions on Outpost 4
    According to FirewallLeakTester.com, Agnitum Outpost 4.0's leak-test functionality is designed to block a very broad range of leak tests. In its fully aggressive mode, Outpost 4.0 may make your life a living hell with repetitive prompts. It's nice to know, however, that you can ratchet up the protective power any time, even if you wind up turning down to one of Outpost's more permissive modes (as I did).

    I installed Outpost Pro 4 on a machine running F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006. In other words, I tempted fate, since both products contain anti-spyware and F-Secure is noted for its strong tendency toward incompatibility. I disabled Outpost's anti-spyware scan during installation, but the anti-spyware module came up running by default post installation. It is possible to fully disable it at that point.

    With F-Secure running alongside Outpost 4, I quickly ran into difficulties. It worked fine for a while, but on subsequent reboots I found that Outpost froze or that my Internet connection died. I was also unable to make my VPN connection work, even though I directed Outpost to give it full rein.

    Eventually I was forced to remove Outpost in order to get any work done. I'm currently setting up a test machine that will provide a cleaner environment for Outpost to give it a proper test. This first two-hour experiment was a little unfair.

    I can draw some conclusions from installing and using Outpost even for that short period of time. Outpost 4 may well be the most powerful and comprehensive personal firewall I've examined. This product is loaded with good features. The graphical log file, which also allows you to make settings changes, is absolutely superb. The level of fine control is perfection.

    On the other hand, the networking control features are less clear-cut than I'd like. And for my simple tastes, Agnitum has packs way too many extra modules into this package. I don't want anti-spyware in my firewall. I also don't want content filtering, ad blocking, Internet-based sharing of my settings, attachment quarantine, or DNS caching. I would be quite interested in "Outpost 4 Lite," if such a thing existed, consisting of the firewall, application controls, intrusion detection, leak protection, and network monitoring.

    So, bottom line, I will continue to test Outpost 4 to give it a fair shake. And if you're looking for a top-notch firewall with a lot of bells and whistles, this is almost certainly it.

    But I'm crossing it off the list of lightweight firewalls that are under consideration for my ongoing series: "Looking for the Right Software Firewall" because it it's so much more than the simple firewall I'm looking for.

    A Few Insights on F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007
    I recently began evaluating the new F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007 version, released about a month ago. The previous version of this product, F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006, won the Scot's Newsletter Award for Best Antivirus Product of 2006.

    Please note: I have not been testing the new 2007 version long enough to draw a final conclusion about it yet. But there are several things worth passing along:

    Under the heading "Less Is More," F-Secure has removed the Browser Control module, which many users found to be more annoying than helpful. Since the module focused primarily on Internet Explorer, and since IE7 had not shipped at the time the F-Secure product was released, that may be the more likely reason why this module was pulled.

    The F-Secure site claims that the 2007 version of the product adds real-time protection against spyware. F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006 did protect against spyware in real time, although it may have used its virus engine to do that. The only thing that seems different is that there is a separate tab in the configuration area for anti-spyware. My gut reaction is that there's little difference in F-Secure's operation.

    The downside continues to be application conflicts. There is no doubt in my mind that the F-Secure engineering team seeks to limit tech support costs by eliminating potential conflicts in a very extreme manner. I'll give you an example. I installed F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007 on a machine that had a pre-existing installation of Norton PartitionMagic. The Norton product comes with LiveUpdate, its program-updating tool. F-Secure refused to install without removing LiveUpdate from my computer. PartitionMagic isn't even a security product. It left PartitionMagic in place. But because Norton uses LiveUpdate for Norton AntiVirus, all versions of LiveUpdate are obviously the enemy.

    It's this kind of idiocy that has not endeared F-Secure to advanced users. And even though I recommended the product, this is getting old for me, too. I encountered no compatibility issues in my tests of the 2006 product on several machines. But this PartitionMagic thing is pathetic.

    Another problem with F-Secure Anti-Virus 2007 is that the company raised the price. The PR agency told me that a single machine license would be about $55, while a one-to-three-user license is $60. On the F-Secure website, though, the online store always defaults to British pounds, even though you have clicked into the U.S. area on the map. the price in pounds is 65.90. But when you go to check out, the price is $65.90 U.S. (for up to three users). It's great that F-Secure is offering a multiple-user license; that was a drawback of the previous version. But the confusion on pricing is unprofessional.

    Several SFNL readers have purchased the 2007 version, and only one or two have reported small problems to me. With only limited use, it appears to me that there are only minor differences between the 2006 and 2007 versions. I continue to recommend strongly against the more expensive F-Secure Internet Security suite, both the 2006 and 2007 versions. The suite adds a firewall, parental controls, and some other things. You're better off getting a separate firewall.

    I also continue to recommend Eset's Nod32 for anyone using Microsoft Outlook. The longer I've used Nod32, the more I've grown to like it. It is not for Eudora users, however. Those of you using something other than Outlook or Eudora, the only thing you lose with Nod32 is outbound message scanning. That poses no real danger to you personally. I would like to see Eset change this sooner rather than later; but Nod32 is a significantly worthy alternative that's worth your consideration.

    Power Users Win on Vista Licensing
    Microsoft recently made an excellent decision to step back from a new, stricter limitation for Vista (over Windows XP) on the number of times a retail copy of Vista may be removed from one PC and reinstalled on another. In XP, you were technically able to do this as many times as you liked. Microsoft's initial plan was to let you move the retail version of Vista only once. Advanced users who frequently rebuild or trade up to more powerful machines would have most likely been forced to re-buy the OS every other time they made significant hardware changes, such as a wholesale motherboard, CPU, hard drive, or video upgrade.

    Under Windows XP, this level of upgrade almost certainly requires you to make a phone call to Microsoft's Activation support line and enter a long string of characters into an Activation dialog. But at least you weren't stuck paying for Windows again.

    Bowing to pressure and public outcry from a vocal community of advanced users, Microsoft recently changed its policy, making the Vista retail license agreement effectively match the XP license agreement in this area.

    For the clearest understanding of this change and how it affects you, please read Ed Bott's Microsoft Changes Vista License Terms.

    Note: If your copy of Windows (whether XP or Vista) came with a PC you purchased, you have no rights whatsoever to reinstall it on another machine. The OEM PC license comes on a per-machine basis. It's for that PC alone. In other words, you can't take it with you if you upgrade to a new computer. You may, though, be able to make significant hardware changes to your PC and retain your rights to Windows by calling the Activation support line.

    Top


    Dot-com Dunderheads
    What is it with established dot-coms and customer service? Some of the most successful dot-com companies — including Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay — offer some of the worst user experiences.

    Several years ago I gave up on Yahoo altogether. Yahoo's user account system was nightmarishly complex in those days. What's more, the company was trying to track everything you did online to profile you and rent your name to the highest bidder. Free Yahoo email addresses were literally spammed on purpose. Yahoo Groups was a center for spam, too. But the worst experience for me was Yahoo Stores, where your privacy was anything but respected. There's a reason why Microsoft's Passport failed. And Yahoo was one of the last companies to understand that if you don't treat your users better, they're going to leave. I still don't use Yahoo. But many people I know do, and it seems they've cleaned up their act a bit. Too late for me.

    Amazon.com was the next to ruin its reputation as far as I'm concerned. It was once a brilliant company, but where's the innovation now? The only thing I buy from Amazon is books these days. At least at eBay, you know that a good percentage of the sellers are fly-by-night shysters. And you can read feedback on them. At Amazon, which is now the online discount store to the world, apparently the fact that customers are seemingly buying from "Amazon" but in actuality being redirected to the same people selling on eBay is not a concern. Amazon apparently doesn't care if customers get burned by problems such as late fulfillment, no fulfillment, incorrect fulfillment, shady return policies, shipping prices that are the primary profit center, and the like. The point is, Amazon is willing to erode the quality of its brand just to make a percentage of a zillion sales. Not a very sound long-term strategy in my book. And not a place I intend to buy as much from in the future.

    This month, though, I'm saving most my genetically derived Irish ire for eBay. I signed up for eBay years ago. I've never been a seller, but I've been a fairly regular buyer. In all the time I've used eBay, I've only ever had one serious problem; I was burned by a shady seller. But my experience has been overwhelmingly positive because I've also had 60 or 70 excellent transactions on eBay and I've saved a ton of money by using the service.

    Recently, because of frequent mail server outages, I decided to change my email address for my eBay account to one provided by a more reliable mail host. I put in the change of address, and I got back an eBay form message requiring that I provide an updated credit card number. I checked my eBay account and realized that my credit card was, in fact, out of date by a couple of days. I also realized that the only reason eBay had my credit card number was because I had signed up as a seller, and eBay requires your card number so it can directly charge sellers fees. No problem, I thought, I'll just get eBay to disable my selling account, since I've never used it and have no desire to. I'd just as soon they no longer kept my credit card on file anyway. It took days to accomplish this because of eBay's somewhat anemic email support, but I finally tumbled to the fact it offers live chat, and was able to get through pretty quickly in that fashion.

    The first annoying aspect was that I went through the entire process of explaining and verifying who I was and bringing up my account only to have the customer service rep tell me that, sorry, she can't cancel my selling account — only a billing specialist can do that. So she transferred me to a new live chat queue. Here's the transcript of the second chat. Remember, all I'm trying to do is change my email address — without giving the online auction company my sensitive credit card information. eBay, however, apparently has an altogether different take on this, which involves requiring credit card number and expiration date in order to let you to change an email address. Does that sound preposterous? Read on.

    9:07:14 PM - System: You are being transferred to another queue. Please stand by...

    9:09:20 PM - System: Betty Sue has joined this session!

    9:09:20 PM - System: Connected with Betty Sue

    9:09:22 PM - Betty Sue: Thank you for contacting Live Help! My name is Betty Sue and I invite you to please share your feedback with me about our chat today by filling out a brief survey when we are finished. Just one moment while I read your message

    9:09:49 PM - Scot: I would like to cancel my registration to sell on eBay.

    9:09:53 PM - Betty Sue: Ok, can I again get you to verify your registered email address?

    9:10:16 PM - Scot: It's {Email Address}

    9:10:58 PM - Scot: Just to be clear, I don't want to cancel my buying privileges. I just want to remove my credit card information and cancel my selling privileges.

    9:11:21 PM - Betty Sue: Right

    9:11:47 PM - Betty Sue: For verification purposes, can I have the name, address, and phone number that is registered to your eBay account.

    9:12:38 PM - Scot: {Address and phone number}

    9:13:31 PM - Betty Sue: Ok great that is what I have

    9:14:30 PM - Betty Sue: To close your selling account, I will need to remove your financial details, is that ok?

    9:14:46 PM - Scot: What does that mean?

    9:15:08 PM - Betty Sue: It means I would remove the credit card and/or bank account information that was used to create the selling account

    9:15:32 PM - Betty Sue: It's not possible to completely close a selling account, however, this would prevent the listing/sale of any new items

    9:15:48 PM - Scot: Ok. Sure. That's what I want. That has no effect on the buying account, right?

    9:15:59 PM - Betty Sue: No effect on your buying account at all

    9:16:31 PM - Scot: OK. It sounds like, if I ever want to sell, I can add this financial info? Or do I need to request it?

    9:16:40 PM - Betty Sue: You would need to re-add that

    9:16:46 PM - Scot: ok, fine.

    9:16:49 PM - Betty Sue: Ok, I went ahead and removed all of that information

    9:17:27 PM - Scot: So ... I've been trying to change my email address. They keep asking me for a new CC expiration date. Will that problem go away do you think?

    9:18:05 PM - Betty Sue: No, that is a separate process from having or creating a selling account. That is confirm an email address, and there isn't a way to confirm a new email address without entering that information

    9:18:38 PM - Scot: Wait, you mean in order to have an eBay account, I need to have a credit card on file?

    9:18:46 PM - Betty Sue: No

    9:19:15 PM - Betty Sue: In order to confirm a new email address, you need to enter in credit card details. Once accepted, the new email address can be confirmed. This has nothing to do with a selling account

    9:19:18 PM - Scot: I don't understand. They're asking me for a new credit card expiration date — in order to change my email address?!

    9:19:20 PM - Betty Sue: Its a completely different process

    9:19:25 PM - Betty Sue: That is correct

    9:19:50 PM - Scot: I don't understand. I don't need a credit card on file, but I do?

    9:20:19 PM - Betty Sue: It's not on file

    9:20:26 PM - Betty Sue: It's for verification purposes only

    9:20:43 PM - Betty Sue: You aren't placing a card on file when you confirm a new email address. Its just for verification purposes

    9:20:45 PM - Scot: You've got to be kidding me. That's the only way to change my email address?

    9:20:55 PM - Betty Sue: it's a separate process from having a selling account

    9:20:59 PM - Betty Sue: That is correct

    9:21:24 PM - Scot: OK, well, then ... eBay just lost another member.

    9:21:36 PM - Betty Sue: I apologize for any inconvenience

    9:21:37 PM - Betty Sue: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?


    Because eBay had already done so much for me already that day.

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    Link of the Month: Ed Bott's Microsoft Report Blog
    Ed Bott is an independent book author, blogger, and Windows expert whom I've known for almost 20 years. We worked together at PC/Computing in the early 1990s and often collaborated on stories and projects there. Ed has been a blogger for a long time on his personal blog, Ed Bott's Windows Expertise: But it's Ed Bott's Microsoft Report on ZDNet that I'm in particular singling out for praise. Ed's coverage of Windows Genuine Advantage, Vista's Software Protection Platform, Vista licensing, DRM in Vista, and many other controversial topics swirling around Windows Vista and Microsoft this year have been nothing short of first rate.

    Unfortunately, the WordPress-based blog software ZDNet uses (while mostly quite good) makes it difficult to find a list of past posts without paging back through an archive containing large blocks of each and every post. And the search, like most content searches, is uneven. Because the navigation is at the bottom of each page, be prepared for a lot of scrolling. But I assure you that paging back through Ed's posts will be well worth your time.

    The man can blog.

    Better Jeff Han Video
    My apologies to the reader (whose name I lost) who sent me this link to a much better video of Jeff Han's user interface work. I featured some other links from Han a few months back. This is the video you want to see to get a much better sense of what Han is working on. Definitely check out this video (Adobe Flash).

    Have you discovered a relatively unknown, technology-related website that's a little amazing? Please send me the URL so I can check it out and let everyone know about it.

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    The next issue of the newsletter is expected sometime in December.

    You can always find out when the next issue of Scot's Newsletter is expected to appear by visiting the Scot's Newsletter home page.

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