Patents, iDevice docks and GenuineCheck

  • (Network World)
  • 20 September, 2012 20:25

First up: The U.S. Patent Office just granted Microsoft a patent for, and I am not making this up, controlling an audio signal of a mobile device by giving it a whack. My friend Jerry spotted this gem sliced and diced on the Patent Bolt Blog with the headline, "Microsoft Patent: How to Silence your Device by whacking it off."

That such a simple and obvious idea should be patentable defeats the mind. Plus, as various readers commented, prior art in the form of phones from Nokia had a more-or-less identical feature.

MORE PATENTS: RIM, Microsoft ink licensing deal for media-focused file storage format

Next, iPhone docks. If you haven't yet joined the iPhone 5 crowd and started throwing or giving away all of your old iPhone docks you might still be looking for a way to snazzily dock your now antique iPhone 4 or 4S model.

And, of course, being the fashionable geek that you are, you're going to want that elegance, the "je ne sais quoi" that the iPhone embodies. Thus, you may well spy the Bracketron MetalDock at your favorite tech emporium and think "that's it! It's elegant, stylish ... I must have it!" But hold hard!

Yes, the MetalDock is a really cool design. The moderately heavy metal "L" supports your iPhone or iPod Touch in either portrait or landscape mode and once you engage the connector, your iDevice will just sit there. Rotating the "L" 90 degrees allows for whichever orientation you prefer.

But alas, do not be too hasty to purchase this dock because this rather lovely design has a problem: It only fits "naked" iPhones. That's right, to use this dock your iPhone or iPod Touch must be sans case, which may be fine for some people, but for us banana-fingered types who think the iPhone is too small anyway and tend to fumble our Apple jewel, going caseless or peeling the case off whenever we want to dock it is just not going to work.

If only there was an adjustment you could make to move the connector just far enough to the left to accommodate a cased iDevice. Alas, once again, the manufacturer didn't consult with me ...

The Bracketron MetalDock is priced at $34.95 and gets a Gearhead rating of 3 out of 5. Add an adjustment to allow for cases and, who knows? Mebbe more ...

So, what else isn't working quite right? Well, for that we must return to the company we opened with: Microsoft and its wretched, nasty little GenuineCheck.exe utility that tries to spot the scofflaws that would attempt to pirate or, more accurately, appear to have pirated Windows.

Turns out this dreadful piece of marketing crapware is now out of date. Should you have to run it to install Microsoft updates it will report, "This version of the Windows Genuine Advantage validation tool is no longer supported. Please download the newest version and ensure your system clock is accurate."

Turns out the GenuineCheck.exe utility is no longer usable so, to perform the required validation, you have to run the ActiveX version of GenuineCheck via 32-bit Internet Explorer, whether you like it or not!

Reader Steveo88 pointed me to a couple of threads (here and here) in the "Microsoft Genuine Advantage Forums" where you can see the extremely pro-Microsoft moderator get very irritable with people who simply can't understand why Microsoft should make this so damn difficult. Perhaps the users should, licensing permitting, just whack it.

Gibbs is whack in Ventura, Calif. Tell him what makes you crazy at gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

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