Friday, December 12, 2008

Cranium Drainium 9: Chrome, Script Limitations

Chrome has been my default browser since sometime back in August, I think.  I didn't even make a conscious decision to "switch".  I had been a faithful Firefox user, but let's face it, there are times when you HAVE to fire up IE in order to do something that won't work otherwise.  That's an interesting point for me actually:  That IE has become a "when-needed" utility and not my primary browser.

Anyone that knows me will agree that I'm a sucker for jumping into beta programs.  I love to try new things.  They break and blow up and go sideways sometimes, but that's ok.  With VMware there's even less risk to giving things a try.  I still love it.  I have fond memories of "Topaz", "Whistler", "Ruby", "SMS4", ".NET Server", "Office 12", "Kirkland", "Red Dear", "Sedona", "Banff" and "Yukon".  Even going back to Allaire Cold Fusion 4.0 and 4.5.  CFML: (snicker- chuckle). 

The problem for me is that today's software is BORING.  That's right.  Bo-Ring.  Regardless of what platform it's on, it's just getting more dull every year.  Business-oriented crap that forces you into an online activation scheme or a heroin tie-off-and-shoot-up subscription addiction IV drip program.  The developers are no longer "in charge" folks.  They have been locked in a back room by the suits.  Excitement and reliability are second-class citizens to shareholder value.

I digressed again.  Ooops.

So I gave Chrome a try.  I didn't fall in love with it immediately.  But I just kept using it and in short time I checked the little box to make it my default browser.  I figured once it pissed me off I'd dump it and go back to Firefox.  I have been using Chrome ever since.  What can I say?  It's fast, it's simple.  Clean.  And renders pretty well.  I wish it had a few more features, but it works.  It doesn't integrate Gmail with MAILTO tags very well, nor does it provide inclusion of the Google Toolbar, which is just downright WEIRD to me.  But it works, and it works fast.

Oh geez.  I need anti-digression therapy.  Oh wait, that comes in six-packs.  Hold on...

I'm back.  Where was I?  Oh yeah:  Scripting

Scripting is one of my passions.  Web or desktop, doesn't matter.  I love writing code.  PHP, LISP, ASP, VBscript, PowerShell, Kixtart.  I think of all of them LISP is my favorite, but it's like a family member self-destructing on a drug habit.  You can't do anything but watch them flush down the toilet.  Sad.  Kixtart would be my second favorite, only because it fills the gaps that VBscript leaves open.  Thanks to the API building kit Microsoft has given us in all of it's products, you can build some really cool things with minimal effort using scripts.

Regardless, there are some things that Microsoft still hasn't connected.   One example would be trying to query Scheduled Jobs with scripts the way SCHTASKS can.  That's because Microsoft chose to store job packages in binary .JOB files under %WINDIR%\Tasks.  No interface exists in WMI/WBEM, and the registry only stores the global params for the scheduler itself, not the jobs you create with it.  You can't dump the SCHTASKS /QUERY output to XML until you get to Vista or Windows Server 2008 either.  So you can't even do an inline merge to an XML parent file by piping output when the client is XP or 2003.  So, even PowerShell can't help you there.  Doh!

Another gaping hole is matching up logical partitions or volumes to physical disks.  Try doing that with VBscript or PowerShell.  Hmmm..   A little tough it seems.  Case in point, you query for Shares.  You get a share and track it to the folder object.  You find the drive object.  That's a logical drive.  Now tell me which physical disk it sits on.  Doh!

Another gaping hole would be turning off Remote Differential Compression (RDC) via the registry or WMI.  There's no handle on that door, sorry.  It reminds of how they combined the desktop effects setting using a bitwise sum.  You know, in XP when you go into desktop settings and click on Appearance, then Effects and turn off the stupid fade-in effect (aka "Enable this to slow your computer down for no damn reason").  Yeah, that one.  Ever tried to configure that on 3000 clients using a GPO setting?  How about a registry hack?  Mmmm.  Not fun.

I've praised Microsoft's accomplishments for building such elaborate, consistent, and thorough plumbing across their products.  From COM/DCOM, to WMI/WBEM, to LDAP/ADSI to registry and FSO interfaces, to .NET.  But there's more work to be done it seems.  I'm really hoping to see what they do with WMI on Windows 7.  I hope it's significant.

Signing off for a while longer.
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