Ric Bretschneider

My thoughts in your brain…

Archive for October 2011

This Just In: Microsoft Fails to Get the Macintosh – or just good installation practices…

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Just got notified that there’s a Silverlight update for the Mac. OK, I’ll update, what’s the…

Wow. The instructions are so dense with unnecessary text, and eventually tell you to first uninstall any previous version, which necessitates removing half-a-dozen files from the Macintosh library manually. Confused? Of course you are! You’re not supposed to have to go mucking around in the Macintosh Library unless you’re a developer or you’re trying to recover from a poorly written application that has screwed up your settings at a very base level.

Silverlight Installation

Let's be clear. You should NEVER have to go to the Library for an uninstall.

Of course you can watch a video on how to do this. By the way, the video is a WMV, Windows Movie file – guess it would be too awful for MSFT to provide a system native Quicktime for the Macintosh-specific instructions. This is starting to feel like it was written by someone who wanted the user to break their Macintosh. And the video conflicts with the written instructions on the web page which show many more files to delete than the video does.


Did I mention that telling people to go into the Macintosh library and manipulate files is like telling Grandma to wet solder a circuit board – just not supposed to happen.

Really? Really? Are you trying to be a self-parody of a clueless conglomerate with lazy developers?

I’m no longer defending Microsoft when people accuse them of not “getting the Macintosh.” I’ve done so for many years, saying how many people in the Mac business units really do know and enjoy the Mac. But this has made me so embarrassed to have been involved with developing multiple applications, both on the Microsoft Office team and at eBay, that were dependent on this tech*.


By the way. I stand by my prior statements that there are hundreds of Microsoft employees who appreciate, understand, and like the Mac. They live and die by the quality of work they do in making applications like PowerPoint really useful for those trying to co-exist with a predominately Windows business world. I have nothing but respect for those individuals.

Not so much for the Silverlight team.

— Notes —
* While developing the Web Companion for PowerPoint at Microsoft, I was the PM for the team that used Silverlight to render the slide show in a window that would scale the slide interactively when the window was resized.  Without Silverlight installed the image would be a static fixed size.  When I joined eBay I took over the Simple Lister project, a stand-alone Silverlight application that experimented with creating user product listings in under a minute.

Written by ricbret

October 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm

My iOS 5 Update on iPad

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Just finished the iOS 5 update on my iPad 2. Man, what a marathon. It basically needs to back up your data, reset the device, update the OS, then restore your data. So plan for a few hours to completion. I have no idea how people without a computer (wasn’t that the promise?) would do this.

There’s some nice stuff here, you can read about that on the Apple site easy enough, but I’m not rushing to update Debbie’s iPad any time soon.  Not until I’ve made sure I’m aware of all the sharp corners here.  To that effect…

Two Hiccups:

  • When update was “finished” I noticed I only had sound in apps that specifically were made to play sound (like Garage Band for example.) Very strange. Took about 30 minutes to realize that Apple had reset the option of how the physical switch near the volume control buttons work. I’d set that against the default, so it managed locking screen rotation (the original function, and absolutely necessary for those of us who read in bed.) They set it to control sound muting, and apparently the setting for free rotation is the same as mute. Wow, I imagine this is going to burn a few users.
  • Second is that apparently some downloadable content may be corrupted or just not migrated properly. Comics on Graphic.ly all came up as black pages. Had to uninstall the Graphic.ly app, then reinstall and redownload the issues I’d put in my library. Luckily that was only about a dozen, but that could be really painful for someone who bought a lot of comics.

Siri - Not 4 U iPad!

Biggest disappointment: Siri is not on the iPad. There’s really no good reason for this, other than to drive people to iPhone. And we’ll have to see how well that works. Android voice commands work very well, and is integrated in all the right places, but I rarely use them. Siri is not a game changer, it’s just a game.

Useless features:

  • Reminders task List – Frankly anyone who isn’t using WunderList will be pleased with the Apple task list app.  However, it’s not near as cool as Wunderlist, is not cross-platform, does not sync to your Windows or Android devices… well, let’s just say I’ve buried this app inside a “Utility” folder to keep it out-of-the-way.  Why Apple made this lame addition an “essential” app, one you can’t delete, is just mind-numbing hubris. Go find Wunderlist and thank me later.
  • Grid in Camera.  Don’t get me wrong, the rule of threes is essential for good composition.  However just adding a grid to the camera is so Apple – no documentation or help in figuring out why you would turn it on.  Come on Spartan design sense, surely even you can give a hint now and then.
  • Newstand.  Just another Apple money grab.  My non-newstand publications sit on a page around a Newstand app with two demo pubs in them.  It just looks lame and yes!  You can’t delete this Essential app either.

May update as I learn more.

Written by ricbret

October 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm

The PowerPoint Team Blog…

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Well, everything old is new again.

Today the Microsoft PowerPoint Team Blog did me the honor of pointing out one of my posts from earlier this year, The Blur Trick, with an invitation to write more later.

I had the fun of writing a re-introduction for myself, for the blog I got started and which still contains entries I hope continue to help customers.

Hi, I’m Ric Bretschneider.  You might remember me from…well, the very first entry in the PowerPoint team blog back in 2006 and a lot of tips and tricks articles after that. I left the PowerPoint team and Microsoft about a year ago, but I’m still very involved with helping people become better presenters, and make better presentations.

I’m very pleased that the PowerPoint Blog team invited me back to share an article, written earlier this year on my personal blog, calledThe PowerPoint Blur Trick. You can add texture or blur the background of a picture using the Artistic Effects feature in PowerPoint 2010, leaving the foreground crisp and clear.

If you missed it before, hope you enjoy it today.  And we’ll see what I can come up with later.


Written by ricbret

October 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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