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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Two Fermions = 1 Boson?

Just asking.

Pauli's Exclusion Principle says two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state. But two bosons can - according to Bose-Einstein statistics, and we have all the weird Bose-Einstein condensates produced in recent years to attest to the theory.

Question: can anyone explain why? (Please note, I'm not asking "can anyone" in any implied "wow! it's really spooky! no one really knows...! woooooooooo!" kind of way).

What I mean is, if a number of bosons can have the same quantum state and fermions can't, then within the bosons-made-of-fermions, the fermions must all have different quantum states, mustn't they? How does that come about or manifest itself?

Just asking.

Word 2007

I think I'll like the new ribbon UI when I get around to it. My problem with Word as it stands is probably trivial for most people, but it's my problem. The problem is that in Page Layout view and using Balloon comments, the text with a comment attached his highlighted in the colour associated with the reviewer who created the comment.

It's a nice idea - I had to implement something similar in VBA for myself in Word 2002 - but not when there are LOTS of comments - the page just becomes unreadable. Unfortunately, IT (The Book) now has about ~4000 embedded comments and consequently the screen is like an explosion in a paint factory.

What I have suggested - but who's listening? - is that this is precisely the sort of feature what should be under user control - Highlight Always, When Selected, Never - the sort of options provided for Field highlighting.

I had a long debate with others about what should or should not be implemented as an "option", but I am still firmly of the opinion that the developer should not be overzealous in second guessing the user - don't ask "Why on earth would anyone want to do that?", or "This is sooo good we must make the user do work this way!", just make sure you don't deliberately close off choices unless they are meaningless or harmful i.e. (pace my old biology teacher, Mr Baron I think was his name) likely to lead to the application equivalent of "Blindness, Sterility or Death".

When I can work out how to install Office 2007 alongside Office 2002 to use Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint 2007 but leave me Word 2002 I'll let you know... last time I tried the Office 2007 install alongside Office 2002 a lot of things - mostly shortcuts - were "altered" in undesired ways.

But, we live in hope.

Office 2007 Trials

A word of warning. Microsoft does not provide "Technical Support" for Trial software. It's a bland general statement and difficult to complain about as such... but I'll try.

I've been using Microsoft Office since it came into existence. Once upon a time (and to be fair, this was a long time ago - early 90's I guess) I used to find fatal errors in Word and Excel at the rate of about 1-2/month each... but we've come a long way since then and they remain for me extremely powerful, flexible and reliable tools; I use them for hours daily.

So, having gone from an HP Pavilion laptop with Windows XP to this new Rock laptop with Vista Home premium I was keen to trial Office 2007. However, paranoia to the fore - and having done a lot of customisation with VBA, toolbars etc. etc. I thought I'd move my Office 2002 over and install Office 2007 alongside it.

This decision was leveraged by my first real irritation with Vista - the removal of Protected Storage functionality relied on by Outlook 2002 to store email account passwords. The result is that Outlook cannot remember passwords (XP's Protected Storage wasn't included in Vista), so every time I start it up I have to type in my POP3 and SMTP passwords - and I can find no workaround - so moving immediately to Outlook 2007 while I migrated Word, Excel and PowerPoint was a real incentive.

Downloaded Office 2007 Standard trial. Installed Trial. No Outlook 2007. Odd.

Tried to re-install it and looked carefully at the options - only to find that apparently Outlook 2007 wasn't in the installer! Of course this isn't true - it is in the installer, but the fun thing is that if an earlier version of Outlook is already installed on your system the installer says Outlook 2007 is "not available" to install. Not can't install over, or won't install over or alongside, just not available. Not that I was able to discover this without Herculean efforts.

(Apparently I could have discovered the key facts for myself - yes, I put my hand up to blindness/stupidity - but it took a lot of effort to find anyone who could tell me how I could and should have worked it out for myself. My thanks to Tim and Ben of Microsoft in Reading for helping eventually resolve the issue)

Anyway, the search for "pre-sales" support before I got to Tim & Ben. Try as I might, I couldn't seem to communicate the fact that I didn't want "technical support"
- I wanted to know why the package that said it included Outlook 2007 "patently" (my mistake) didn't.

Round and round and round we go on not inexpensive support calls routed to India. Eventually someone suggests online technical support - just enter the product key! Aha! But... Trial product keys are not valid for online support.

Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

My point being: finding out why the installer is apparently not working is not the usual sort of technical support, it's "pre sales support". Imagine going to buy a new car, you visit the showroom... that one looks nice...

"Can I take it for a test drive?"

"Certainly sir, here is the key."

"Oh... I can't start it."

(because it has that

You-Must-Have-Your-Foot-On-The-Brake Pedal,

nannyism programmed into it)

"I'm sorry sir, we don't provide technical support..."

So, either provide some appropriate Pre Sales Support Mr Microsoft or stop offering Trial Software.

Steganos Safe 2007 - Start Here

I've been using Steganos security products for quite some time now and found them to be generally excellent... I keep (kept) passwords in the Password Manager and personal Stuff in a Safe, and let their security suite watch out for spyware etc. etc.

Generally very good and useful applications.

But - and it's a big BUT - if you expect outstanding service (come to that, if you expect any significant support) you may be disappointed. On the other hand, it could be just me...

Anyway, here's one of the current problems. Running Safe 2007 under Vista Home Premium I created a Portable Safe and wrote it to DVD. Couldn't open it. Did lots of obvious things like check I really was using the right long-and-very-secure password on the temporary copy on the hard drive and I'm pretty convinced it doesn't work.

Compile a reasonably informative support request and sat back and waited... it only took a few days to get a reply this time because AK is on the case, but it was not the sort of reply I was hoping for.

No "Dear Mr Stuff" (thank you for making me feel like a valued, personal customer), not even a platitudinous "We are sorry you are experiencing problems", no "We haven't heard of this problem before" or "I'm afraid I don't understand how this can happen" - what I got from the Manager Customers Service & Support was:

"This is impossible, sorry. A password is valid or invalid, everytime and everywhere"

Nice to be given the benefit of the doubt.

OK - everyone makes mistakes (I'll share some of my greater faux pas and cock-ups another time). Especially me. But even though I was pretty sure I hadn't, I double checked... yes, you guessed, there is a problem.

To be briefly technical, the issue seems to arise if the Portable Safe is written to a UDF format disc - which I had to do because the safe was >2GB in size and ISO format doesn't support files that big.

I've repeated the bad news to them in tedious detail and await their reply in due course!


Dear AK at Prompt Communications has been so patient as I struggle to obtain satisfaction from Steganos GmbH concerning some technical issues with Safe 2007... unfortunately her email template kept reminding me that they track blogs for their clients and so I finally succumbed and decided to start one.

What can you expect now you are here?

Not sure yet. I'm struggling with Microsoft Vista Home Premium on this new Rock Xtreme laptop (nice!) and all the applications and doodads I need to make my life technologically satisfying, and a blog seems like a nice way to highlight some observations.

What else? Oh yes... "IT" - The Book (and I'd like to big-up all my mates here, especially Dean for only making gentle fun of me over this)...

I have now been writing IT for rather too long. Occasionally friends and family ask "How's it going" and I tell them what the word count is - as if that tells them anything. Occasionally, new acquaintances ask "What's it about?", or "What sort of a book is it?" - and then the trouble starts... I'm damned if I know.

Hopefully over the coming weeks and months I might be able to work out what IT is about - or what IT is like...

Meanwhile, I keep myself distracted and my procrastination skills in peak form by reading New Scientist to keep on top of the scientific & technical news, writing absurdly tedious Visual Basic for Word and Excel to help me organise all the material in and around IT... and now by blogging too.