Thursday, July 06, 2006

Beta blockers

[reading: Johnson Hart, "Windows System Programming (3rd edn)"]

So the private beta continues apace. There's been a variety of minor problems turning up and getting fixed, but mostly we're focusing on two areas.

Firstly, there's the problem of the Outlook object model guard. It seems that Microsoft responded to a wave of email viruses by releasing a service pack that locked down Outlook; any time that external code attempts to access details about an email, Oulook puts up a dialog asking the user whether this is OK or not. (Our beta user who had to uninstall had this problem: a dialog box coming up on every email you look at is rather annoying.)

Of course, this spells doom for almost every Outlook add-in—there can't be many extensions for an email program that don't need to access details about emails. It looks like the restrictions were relaxed in later versions of Office (which is why we'd not seen it ourselves), but we need to cope either way—which probably means Redemption.

The other problem is the tricky business of tuning our heuristics for real-world data. There are five or six different knobs we can frob to adjust how the tracked information gets summarized and displayed, and different settings suit different people depending on their usage patterns. Ideally we'll find a collection of settings that are good enough for everyone; less ideally, we may end up with an options dialog that allows users to pick settings that work better for them.

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