Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zoundry Error

wat




[OK FOR SERIOUS NOW]
I thought it'd be funny to leave it at "wat"....but I guess I better be a little serious. Program developers: please try to put a little effort into your errors. I mean how they handle them. Yes, If I clicked "Details", it would have showed the code, but dammit, man, I'm a blogger, not a programmer! (Did I just use a Star Trek reference? Ugh. I must be tired.)

Seriously though. Zoundry is a decent program, but things like this can drive people away. Do you know what the problem was Zoundry when this error popped up? My password was wrong. Simple as that. I had changed it a while back and hadn't updated Zoundry. Don't you think that's something obvious the programmers could check, rather than throwing an "Error: None" back at the user? If I hadn't remembered that, I could have spent time googling and troubleshooting for something as simple as a failed login.

The same goes for Handbrake: tell the user that the folder doesn't exist. Do the developers realize how annoying that is? You could spend 10-20 minutes making a queue, forget that the folder has to exist, then it will just breeze through the queue and you have to make it all over again.

[OK BACK TO FUNNY]
wtf rotf lol

-Bry

xPUD

Wow. A 5 second boot to usable, 5 second shut down, 64MB ISO. What's not to like? I have it sitting in a VM with as low as 256MB of RAM and 5MB of video memory, and it boots up quick and goes down quick. Sure, I've got a decent processor, but still, I can't imagine this thing taking more than 10 seconds to boot up, even on an Atom or ancient processor.

The thing that I find nice about xPUD is that it's got the winning combination: it's extremely light to start out with, but also customizable. It starts out with just Firefox, xterm, and mplayer, but can add things like codecs, Skype, Pidgin, or even OpenOffice. Of course, this will add to the size of xPUD, but there's the beauty of it: it's your choice. Sure, there's not a ton of applications available (at least, officially), but it has enough to function on a simple level: web browsing, media playing, an office suite, IM, etc. And that's what it is: simple.

So there's that, plus the ability for it to be installed in Windows (C:\xPUD) and dual boots alongside Windows. That's like Wubi on steriods. (Is it? Well, something like that.) No partitions for you to worry about, but then, you also have to install GRUB. Of course you can also download an image and set up a traditional install, or even boot from the ISO in GRUB. In any case, you'll have no shortage if ways to use xPUD however you want.

There's one last thing I should mention: the absolute latest version ATTOTP is 0.9.5, but I highly recommend 0.9.2. The former is fairly new and tests out a few new features while the latter is more stable (in my experience, at least). I've yet to install it anywhere, but if I bring my netbook back to life, xPUD will probably be its latest reincarnation.

I would suggest checking it out if you own a netbook or are just curious about "the quickest way to the cloud."

Click here plz! KTHX!

-Bry

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coexist

I swear, my hand to god, I thought this up a long time ago. Well, I pondered it, but I never actually put it through. Anyway, it's a shirt over on Woot!.


Here's what they are, if you don't know (I didn't know a few):
c - the Apple logo
o - the Ubuntu logo
e - the Debian logo
x- the skyOS logo
i  - the ChromeOS logo as the dot
s - the Solaris logo over the "s"
t - the Windows logo

I seriously had already picked out a few; I too realized that Apple would make a good C and that Ubuntu would make a good O. However, I was possibly thinking that the Windows logo turned slightly would make a good X. I didn't know the Solaris logo, but the artist kind of adapted it a bit, but it still works well. I can't help but think there could have been a better "i", since ChromeOS is not exactly all that popular. And I've never heard of skyOS until this very moment.

But the real reason I love this shirt is the poem that was written with it; allow me to share (and I did not write this, so no credit to me):

There’s often lots of fumin’, and battle lines get drawn
It’s because we’re only human, but what’s really going on?
Well, Apple looks quite nice but everything inside is quirky.
And plus the users tend to be defensive and quite jerky.
Ubuntu has a lot to give and usually runs fine,
But they’ve never even met someone in graphical design.
And Debian, sweet Debian, it really does a lot!
As long as you already think like the designers thought,
But skyOS? Let’s face it, that’s here just to be a letter.
And chromeOS? You really think that Google should be bigger?
Solaris has some street cred, but requires education,
So no one’s really going to bother besides some big corporation.
And finally, good ol’ Windows, about which we would write,
But our system found new updates and rebooted in the night.
Let’s face it, every OS just meets someone else’s needs.
And no one cares for you and me, they just want to succeed.
And we’re not gonna write one, so we’re stuck inside their haze.
It’s sad we can’t accept it, they just suck in different ways.

Vote for and buy this shirt because it's awesome. Or buy me one.
-Bry

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Video Vednesday: "Beyond Black Mesa"

This is the best video I've seen in a long time. It's inspired by Half-Life (though you probably know that by the title), has amazing cinematography and amazing special effects. Overall, I'm shocked and pleased. I really can't say anything else about it. If you like Half-Life or have even played it, watch this trailer. Even if you don't, just watch it. It's amazing.



I discovered it from Bob's House of Video Games, but it has it's own homepage so please click there to BeyondBlackMesa.com.
-Bry

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John's Background Switcher & Dual Monitor Tools (& Wallpaper Master)

For the longest time, my favorite wallpaper rotator was Wallpaper Master. It is literally one of my very favorite freeware, just because I'm not sure there is one thing I can think of I'd improve about it. It works smoothly, has different collections for images, and runs silently in the tray. It is an amazing freeware....for someone with one monitor. But it's not so great at handling two monitors (at least not the freeware version), so I tried to find another freeware to handle it. It was actually a difficult quest.


But eventually I came across John's Background Switcher. An interesting name, I'll admit, but it does what it says. It's an interesting alternative to Wallpaper Master; it's more internet-oriented, as it can download images from multiple services such as Flikr, Facebook, Google Images, or even an RSS Feed to use as wallpapers. It's fairly feature filled, just with features I don't really desire or use. What it is good at is multiple monitors. It can do the same wallpaper on all monitors, different on each, the same spread across, or even just one wallpaper on the main monitor. In addition, it also has a ton of configuration, arguably more than Wallpaper Master. It's got configurable keyboard shortcuts, things called "montages" which is a collage of pictures, how big the cache should be, and a ton of other stuff to make the program run however you want.

There are a few things I wish it did have. It does not have categories, so it's difficult to switch between groups that you might want. Also, you can't choose what specific wallpaper you want, which is doubly annoying for multiple screens. And lastly, it takes a good while to switch. Wallpaper Master was usually instant, whereas John's takes a few moments, which can be annoying at times.


Nonetheless, it's a great program, and I highly recommend it. But maybe you need a much simpler approach. Maybe you don't need a wallpaper rotator, you just want a tool to easily set different wallpapers for different monitors. I hear you. You're lucky I stumbled upon Dual Monitor Tools. One of the tools is Dual Wallpaper, which is just a tool to very, very simply set wallpapers for dual monitors. And the best part is, it supports both separate images and one shared image, so it is basically all you'll ever need when it comes to your wallpaper needs. Oh, and it's open source, which is awesome. Check out some of the other tools, they're very handy.


So that's about it. Three different programs that all rock in their respective jobs. If you only have one monitor and want to rotate wallpapers, try Wallpaper Master. It will blow your mind and you will love it. If you have two monitos and just want to set different wallpapers or one shared wallpaper, use Dual Wallpaper. It's simple and will do what you want easily. If you have multiple monitors and want to rotate images, use John's Background Switcher, or considering buying the shareware of Wallpaper Master. "What," you're saying, "Shareware? Have you gone mad?" No. I believe that software developers should be rewarded for the time and effor they spent creating a great software. Wallpaper Master is a great freeware, worthy of money. And the shareware has multi-monitor support, so it all works out.

I've considered making a Picasa album for all my wallpapers, that is, assuming I can get them all organized one day. Anyway, hope this helps your desktops look prettier.
-Bry

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oracle bought Sun!

This happened a while ago, but I didn't notice until recently when I installed OpenOffice.org on Windows 7. Sun is gone! It's so weird.....Sun's been there as long as I can remember. I've really liked some of their products, specifically Virtualbox and OpenOffice.org, and I do have to give them credit for Java and Solaris. And to just think that they're gone....well, not gone. But they no longer exist. Well, I mean, they are now a part of Oracle.

The weirdest part for me is that I'd never heard of Oracle before. They must be pretty big to buy Sun, a company that was started in 1982 and have done some amazing things since then. Of course, the buy price must've been pretty high ($7.4 billion, according to Wikipedia).

I dunno why it shocked me so, but it did. I guess it's just cause I've known about Sun for so long, it's like they've always been there. Hell, they're older than me, and then they get bought out by some company I've never heard of before. Just weird. Not bad, mind you, I'm not exactly fond of some approaches Sun takes (mostly in Java), so hopefully some fresh views will make them all the better. But still, it's weird to open up OOo and see "Oracle" in the about screen.

Here's looking at you, Sun,
-Jon
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Steam L4D2 Slow Loading

[UPDATE 2-14-12]
To the random Googler, the fix was getting more RAM. I can't guarantee that this will fix every instance of slow loading, but read on, and if your symptoms sound similar, you might just need more RAM.
[/UPDATE]

Basically, it's recently been taking me forever to load into a game in L4D2. Like when I'm infected, the survivors will be out of the safe room and shooting crap up before I get in. It's weird. Since I got my second monitor, I've been keeping windows open while I play, specifically HWMonitor, the Task Manager, and occasionally the Wireless status window. I noticed something peculiar about when I join games.

When in the menu or lobby, Left4Dead2.exe will sit around 400MB of RAM. When we start a game, it will climb up to about 1GB of RAM, and when it gets to 1GB, I load in. The problem is that it only loads about 40MB every second, so it literally takes a minute to load in. My connection is fine: it's at 4 bars (or about 80%, when I have the sidebar running). My temps are fine: about 50C for the highest. And no other process is running that is resource intensive (I've been closing Firefox, Dropbox, and uTorrent just to be sure. My ping is usually fine, recently even the best in the game (around 65, which for me is unprecedented.) When I load in, it's usually fine. No lag at all. Just loading screens.

It's pissing me off. I keep getting bumpged to the other team and missing my first infected spawn all because it is taking me longer to load in. My theories are:
  1. My hard drive is too slow. I heard someone say that a hard drive (not SSD) is slower than RAM by far so it is the limiting factor. Since I know that Steam is loading the map into RAM, I'm guessing my HDD is taking too long to read. The weird part about this is that it's been fine on XP, and even on 7 recently. (If you don't feel like looking up my build, my HDD is a WD Caviar Black, which is supposed to be fast, for non-SSD.)
  2. Windows 7 is screwing it up. Since I never experienced this on XP. This could have something to do with memory amount....but I've never capped out on memory. I realized I'm running at about 80%, but would that really matter? I guess the best way I can test this is to get more RAM.
In any case, I'm insanely frustrated. Here are my current plans:
  • Turning off multi-core rendering
  • Defrag the steam files and disk, and verify integrity
  • Get more RAM (probably used, since I don't want to spend a ton for DDR2)
  • Get a SSD (reaaaaally don't want to do right now)
Ugh. Why can't things ever just work?
-Bry

Monday, November 15, 2010

Musicbee psyching out iTunes?/McNinja & QC!

I ran into the weirdest bug recently. I just bought "Plans" by Deathcab for Cutie and I decided to rip it into my iTunes collection with my new DVD drive. But for some reason, when I put the CD in, it didn't show up in iTunes. It showed up in My Computer, but VLC crashed when trying to open it. I know the drive is good since I've used it before, in iTunes even, so I was befuddled.

Several days later, I tried again, and still no success. I stuck in another CD ("Oh! Gravity." by Switchfoot) and it detected it. I tried Plans again, and FINALLY it showed up in iTunes. I tried to import it and got an error: "An unknown error occurred (-50)." Just out of curiosity, I closed Musicbee, which I usually have running side by side iTunes, and tried again. Presto, I have Deathcab.

Anyway, weirdness. The dumbest part is that when I googled the error, the only results that came up were from like 2005, and that either means that Apple is really bad about fixing bugs, or they need to change error codes. Or at least give more info about them.


Is it just me, or are my "hurr durr" and "weird bugs" posts extremely boring? In case they are, I guess I should also throw this in: I got my webcomic-turned-comics today! The Dr. McNinja trilogy and Questionable Content: Vol 1! I even got it personalized by Jeph, and I guess I'll post a picture later.

Hmm...that didn't do alot to make this post not boring. Oh well.
-Bry

Friday, November 12, 2010

Upgrade Wishlist (+Heatsink hurr durr)

I've been giving alot of thought to what I am going to upgrade on my PC and in what order (case obviously being first). I really haven't decided on what order yet, but some things do depend on others.

  • Eventually, I'll have to upgrade my Power Supply. I really didn't know how much I actually needed for my build, but apparently I'm currently pulling about 300-350W. I thought I'd be more around 500W so I'd need to upgrade right away, but it's nice to have a little room.
    Anyway, I am really content with Corsair, but I want a modular supply next. If I get 850W+, I should be set, almost for life. The model I would buy now is the CMPSU-850HX.
  • No one told me to buy a Heatsink, so I'm using stock. Which is probably one of the reasons I'm having temp issues. I really haven't looked into this because I thought it was dependent on my CPU.
    Yes, I had a dumb moment. I know that heatsinks are either for Intel or AMD processors, but I also forgot that one can be both. Like my brothers which came with mounts for both. HURRRRR DURRRRR.
    Anyway, how soon I get a heatsink will depend on how drastically my new case will help my temperature issue.
  • It might just be a Win7 issue, but I might need a new Graphics Card. I've been trying to convince myself to not upgrade until I wasn't able to play games, but it's already kinda happening. With games I've played before. For some reason it's been kinda having issues with LFD2, and I have no clue why.
    Anyway, I'm also considering switching to Nvidia. Why? I dunno, I guess I just think they're heading in a better direction. On the other hand, if I get another ATI, I can use CrossFire or whatever. Still up in the air about this one, and I really don't want to have to buy one anyway....at least not yet.
  • Since I switched to Win7, 2GB of RAM is really not enough. So I need to buy some more. Problem? I still have DDR2. My mobo only supports DDR2, and I really want to spend money on DDR3, not buying more of the obsolete kind. So in order to score some more RAM, I'll need....
    • A motherboard. This is mostly for DDR3 RAM and USB 3.0 compatibility, but it also depends on...
      • The Processor. You can always use more speed, so I'm always ready to buy a new CPU. I've got 2.9Ghz tri-core, and now Quad-core is standard.
        The only thing is....I kinda want to switch to Intel. Why? I really don't know. I mean, I just don't understand the difference enough between the two to prefer one over the other. I just recently learned that you can't overclock Intel processors, which may make me reconsider.
        Basically I need to decide now if I want Intel or AMD. If I want to stick with AMD, I can just keep the CPU I have now, but if I want to switch, then I'll have to get a processor as well, unless I wanted to use the 1Ghz single core Pentium I have in my closet.
  • Speakers...Um, I could get speakers....if money wasn't a factor. But I frankly would rather put the money toward anything else in this list. I don't use my Altec Lansing speakerbar that much, and I doubt I'd use any others as well.
    Buuuut that won't stop me from picking some out: LOGISYS SP8000BK. (4.1 surround sound, 5 eggs....for $40.)
  • Also really low on the list is a Fan Controller, a Card Reader, and other things I don't really need, but might buy cheap from DealExtreme.
's'all.
-Bry

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bry's upgrade wishlist: Case

It's been a while since I built my PC and I think it's about time I got an upgrade. I definitely need to get a new case since mine sucks and I can't believe I paid as much as I did for it. Anyway, I've been searching around a ton, and quite honestly, it's confusing. I mean, in one sense, there are alot of different features that not all cases have. But in another sense, all of them are basically the same.

The thing that I mostly don't understand is how boring most cases are. I understand that airflow and such are important, but why do you have to make them so booooring? I'm not saying that they should be making Giant Optimus Primes or Benders, I'm just saying: how about something other than the standard box? And by standard box, I mean the whole shebang: a boring rectangle with boring 5.25" slots and boring ports. Hesh usually helps make it look a little more exciting, but even then, most case makers tend to just throw hesh on the front and then call it a day. I just don't understand....a case is basically a square aluminum/steel box with fans attached to it. Why does it have to look so boring?


Anyway, here's the things that I've found that I was looking for in a good case (in addition to 5 eggs on Newegg and having a decent amount of drive bays)....in no particular order:
  1. PSU place: Bottom is way better, I've heard. And I frankly can understand why.
  2. Fans: Front, rear, side, and top. I personally wanted all four, or at least the ability to install 4 if I so pleased.
  3. Position of the I/O ports: Top is better if it's going to be on the floor, bottom is better on the desk. My old one had bottom, so I stepped on and broke it.
  4. Color: Mostly LEDs, since you basically have the choice between grey and black for color. (Boooring.) I really like Blue and dislike Red, but that really trims your choices down.
  5. Water Cooling Capable: I understand that if/when I finally switch to water cooling I'll get a very nice case built specifically for it, but I'd also like a case that can handle it, just in case.
  6. Tool-free: This ranges from 5.25" drives, to 3.25" drives, to expansion ports. I'd prefer the more the merrier. But they're are different approaches to this and not all of them work very well.
  7. HDD cage orientation: Kind of a small difference, but I'd really like for mine to be perpendicular. I hate having to get my hard drives in and out in my current case because it's almost impossible to do without removing other components.
  8. Filter: I really don't know how important this is, but filters for the fans is always nice.
  9. Price: Duh!
  10. Size: From what I can tell, the size is mostly dependent on the graphics card now. I don't plan to ever have more than 2, but I don't want to limit myself in the future. But geez, some of the mid towers are just as big as full towers!

So here are my contenders:
  1. Thermaltake Armor A90
    + Well rated; 2 USB ports on the top; favorite in terms of looks; decent compromise of size. (20.30" x 8.30" x 19.80")
    - WC holes are punch out; parallel HDD cage.
  2. Thermaltake Armor A60
    + USB 3.0; weirdo SideClick thing; perpendicular cage
    - Not-so-great reviews; HDD trays are stupid; on the small side. (19.70" x 8.30" x 18.90")
  3. Cooler Master HAF 922
    + Praised everywhere; not too expensive.
    - Red lights; grey interior; maybe too big. (22.20" x 10.00" x 19.70")
  4. Cooler Master Storm Sniper
    + Very good reviews; fan speed control.
    - Price; almost too big (22.30" x 10.00" x 21.70")
  5. Antec Nine Hundred Two
    + Praised everywhere; not too expensive.
    - Not tool-free; parallel HDD cage; don't like the looks; very small. (18.60" x 8.60" x 19.40")
  6. Xigmatek Utgard
    + Fan Control; sweet orange lights; decent compromise of size. (20.30" x 8.10" x 19.30")
    - Parallel HDD cage.
Here are my penultimate thoughts:
  • Favorite appearance: Armor A90
  • Best features: Storm Sniper
  • Safest choice: HAF 922
The whole deal is this: I want a case that (a) I enjoy looking at, and (b) functions well. Now I can either buy a good case that will last me for several upgrades, or I can buy one that is decent that I will ultimately replace. Ideally, I'd want this case to last me for several years, or at least several upgrades. That being said I would like to make sure that it's a good case (silent, functional, etc). At the same time, if I'm going to be stuck with it, I'd like to make sure I like how it looks.

I've been leaning toward the A90 ever since I started searching, since it's actually unique in appearance, a decent size, and has pretty much every feature I want. On the other hand, I don't want to choose the cheaper case again just because I like how it looks.

Therefore, the best choice is the Storm Sniper which has consistently good reviews, the most features, and the most likeliness for expandability. However, it's also the most expensive.

That would lead us to the safest choice: HAF 922. It's got amazing reviews, looks decent, has great features, and is not too expensive. So I know that I'm getting a good product for a cheap price. However, it lacks a few of the nagging features I want.


That's basically where I'm at now. I can choose my favorite in appearance but risk having a poor product. I can choose my favorite in features and spend a buttload of cash. Or I can choose the safe bet and lose out on some of the minor features I wanted.

Tough tough. I'm not going to rush it though since my PC seems to be doing ok in terms of temperature, and hopefully there will be good holiday sales. And I'll be struck with an epiphany of what to get.
-Bry

[UPDATE 11-11-10]
Alright, I'm actually nearing a decision. My current case is so bad that I have to take off the side and point a fan at the Mobo to keep it from tripping 70C and thus my alarm. So there's my motivation.

I've been doing a little more research and thinking some. Here's what I've thought of for each case:
  1. Armor A90: I still like how it looks and its size, but I read in a review something that I'd not thought of before: knobs. The door prevents installing anything that has knobs, like fan controllers. Mind you, I don't have any fan controllers and I have no idea if I ever will, but I don't want to reach a point a few months down the road and think "Man, I need a fan controller, but my case can' handle it." So that alone threw this case out of the running.
  2. Armor A60: It has worse reviews, higher temps, and is smaller than the A90. As much as I'd like some of the features it has (USB 3.0), I just can't.
  3. Antec 902: I never even liked this, I included it because everyone else did. But it lost in the runnings because it's so freaking small! It's barely bigger than my current case!
  4. Storm Sniper: As far as I can tell, it is the nicest case I'm looking at. And also the most expensive. I like how it looks, all of the features, everything. If it were in the same price range as say the Utgard, it would probably win out easy.
  5. HAF 932: I decided that the 932 is better than the 922, so might as well go with it. Plus, the 932 is really more comparable to the Storm Sniper. The 932 is praised way more though, for some reason.
  6. Utgard: My new favorite, after the A90 fell out of the race. Why? Because I like the looks, features, and price. However, it is smaller than the other choices, and not as popular.
Since I couldn't decide with features and size, I decided to look at performance, so I looked at several in-depth reviews. It's hard because each site's review process is different, but I did my best to find a site that reviewed all of them. The reviews proved that the Armors were not very good at performance, the Storm Sniper was amazing, and (if I was reading it correctly), the Utgard was the best of all.

Basically I have a choice:
  • I can choose the Utgard, which is smaller and less popular, although still very good in reviews.
  • I can choose one of the Cooler Masters, which are both good and huge.
Almost almost there. A little more research cut my final list in half, and one more little piece of knowledge could make the decision. But I'm fine with waiting for now, especially since Black Friday is rolling around and there's bound to be a deal on computer cases somewhere.

[UPDATE]
Disregard all of that. I mean, it all still is true, but it really doesn't matter any more. I've found my case: the Cooler Master HAF X. It looks awesome, it's got a ton more features, and it's just amazing. I'm going to sleep on it, but I'm 90% sure this is the one. I'll probably wait until it comes down price for the holidays, or if some random person were to buy it for me *coughIHaveAnAmazonWishlistcough*. Anyway, mystery solved. Ish.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

ReactOS update

I posted a good while ago about ReactOS, an open source Windows NT based OS, capable of running all programs that Windows can run. I've already expressed my undying fascination and praise for the project and I still feel the same way. I wondered if it was going to die out, which would be terrible, but last month, ReactOS 0.3.1.2 was released! Granted, this still puts them behind their tentative schedule, but it definitely is a very good sign when it comes to the project. Like I said before, reverse engineering an OS is no easy task, and I still laud the ReactOS team for their initiative. Hopefully they will keep up the amazing work.
-Bry
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Microsoft's new marketing strategy: Old is bad. Replace it with the same thing.

I'm not really a fan of Bing, even if it's just because of the way Microsoft put it off in the commercials. "What has search overload done to us?" Because apparently Bing isn't a search engine. It's a decision engine. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing. Go to the Wiki page for Bing. Notice the title? "Bing (search engine)". It doesn't take a lot of ingenuity to realize that Microsoft thinks that we are chumps. Listen, I don't care. Maybe Bing does bring up better results than Google. Just stop treating us like idiots. Search engines do not cause us to rattle off incessant facts about a word in a conversation, and Bing searches, it does not decide. It is a search engine. Just like Google. (Oh, and by the way, Bing is nothing new. It's had at least 3 previous forms, all that failed miserably.)

So that came and passed, and I kind of calmed down. Then I just saw an ad for Windows Phone 7. Something along the lines of "We need a phone to save us from our phones." Again. Stating that there is a problem and the answer is the problem itself is just plain dumb. Besides, people love their phones. There are iPhone fanboys, Android fanboys, Blackberry fanboys, and the general population loves their phones. Nobody's thinking "Man my phone sucks. I wish I could have a phone that was different but the same." Our phones do not cause us to text constantly during important or innapropriate times in our lives and the Windows Phone 7 will probably just be another phone. Either better or worse than the current selection, but just another phone.

Geez, Microsoft. I can remember when there were ads you could, ya know, actually relate to.
-Bry

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Pros and Cons of Win7 thus far

I've had Win7 up and running for a few weeks. Here's a few things about W7 I really like, but were surprising:
No more crappy Documents and Settings.
Honest to God, I think that the directory setup for WinXP was designed by drunks. Documents and Settings was such a mess. Now it's under "C:\Users", which is so much better. Plus, all of the Application Data is in one folder...even if I don't understand "Roaming" and "Local."
The Win7 taskbar.
Yeah, I know that it was really "Ooh! Ahh!" when it came out, but I've been thinking, and I do think I might like it. Most of the time I only have one window of a program open, so I just need the icon to identify it. Plus, there's the whole preview and ability to close the window from such. But then if I want, I can switch back to the old-fashioned type. And you can finally drag to reorder.
Win7 Taskbar uses shortcut icons.
This is amazing: I have several Firefox Profiles and I have a different icon for each. Instead of each browser having the same icon, the Win7 taskbar actually uses the shortcut icons! That's amazing! It's a wonderful feature, but it's just....well, honestly not something I'd expect from Microsoft.
The Start Menu search.
This is basically what I wanted from Go!, which I wrote for WinXP.

"Peek"/"Shake"/"Snap".
I kind of like them, but I'm not sure yet. Hovering over a window or the "Show Desktop" button shows only that window, shaking a window minimizes everything except it, and you can snap the windows to certain parts of the screen. It's really, really nice, but it's hard to use the dragging feature because I have two monitors, so one half of the screen won't work.
Alt-Tab.
I'm still up in the air about this, but I like how it shows the preview and how you can use the mouse. It does seem a bit more cluttered though.
Smooth Wallpaper change.
Nice little fade effect.
But of course, it's got some things I don't like as much.
Having to grant Admin access.
I realize it's trying to be safe, but seriously....I have to allow Admin to copy to a folder? To write to the registry? To launch AdvancedDiary? It's just kind of pathetic.
Still no workspaces.
I already wrote another post about it, but seriously. Get off your butt and just write it, Microsoft.
Not as snappy.
I've noticed this kind of recently, and it definitely does not help that I keep moving data around and not defragging, and only have 4Gb of RAM. But it can tend to be slower. But then what do you expect? Moving from Windows XP with a minimalistic bbLean to Windows 7 with Aero is bound to have some consequences. I think once I upgrade my RAM it will be better (still working with 2GB DDR2).
Games don't run as smoothly.
I've noticed this for Steam games. Even Overlord, which I don't think is a very demanding game. This is probably caused by (a) W7 compatibility with my GPU, (b) Running 32-bit Steam on a 64-bit system, or (c) my hardware is failing. I'm not really going to get upset about it since I'm betting it's C. Lord knows I need a new GPU, and a CPU/Mobo combo aren't far behind that.
Overall I'm pretty happy. Win7 seems to just be alot simpler than XP, and that's not a bad thing. It means it can be customized more. (I loved Windows XP because it could be customized, but that's not the way Microsoft wanted it.) Plus, it looks nicer, and it's nice to know that now if someone asks me for help on a Win7 system, I won't have to ask "Where is the _____?"
-Bry
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Tricked into Windows Updates

The other day I installed Windows Live Photo Gallery because I've looked everywhere for a photo organizer that is what I like. (Apparently they're all built around "photos" instead of "images"; what about those of us that want to organize our lolcats?) So anyway, it does something that pisses me off: couples Windows Live Movie Maker with Photo Gallery. Then, after I get it installed, I see the little balloon near my tray. "Windows will apply these 30 updates after a reboot." What? Let me ask again.....what? Seriously? What does the Windows Live Photo Gallery have to do with Windows Updates? Nothing. But it still apparently switched my preference to "Update Automatically."

I don't like Windows Updates, mostly because they tend to break stuff, and because I just don't know what they do. Service Packs are different, but I just tend to ignore updates (and quite honestly, I could never tell a difference with XP.) Nonetheless, I never set it to Automatic because then I am depending on Microsoft to choose what is best for me.

Microsoft = stupid. End The.
-Bry
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[UPDATE 11-9-10]
Apparently Silverlight was included in those updates and for some reason Netflix hasn't updated with to the newest version of Silverlight. So Microsoft broke Netflix for me. Thanks Gates.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Install questions...Et tu, Ubuntu?

I'm installing Ubuntu 10.10 in a VM because I reeaaaally don't feel like trying to get it working in a dual boot system, and honestly I think using a seamless VirtualBox is far more than what I need. (I'll actually probably use it more now since I don't have to leave Windows.) I started to install it, and I noticed....it asks you useless junk at the beginning of the install. I just don't understand why OS developers continue to do this, and I really thought I could remember Ubuntu changing it recently. It does this whole deal with "Copying files", but then it asks you about the user accounts and the time zone and such.

People don't want to do that. People want to click "install", walk away, and have it installed, ready to be configured when they come back. Well, I do anyway. I'm pretty sure Windows even wised up to this. Windows 7 asks for users and crap at the end, I believe, and the timezone as well. Because if it's not required for the installation (and who knows, for Ubuntu maybe it does have to create users to install correctly).

Anyway, that's all. This isn't even really a rant, just a nag. I'm tired, I felt like posting, and Ubuntu is currently using my DVD drive so I can't rip any of the new CDs I got today. And I'm probably being a bit harsh; my linux-loving friend always used to brag about how Ubuntu installed in 7 clicks, and I don't think that numbers gotten any bigger. Plus, I accidentally gave my VM way too few resources, so it probably seemed like it took a lot longer...or something.

Peace out, internet!
-Bry
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Q: Where are the workspaces, Microsoft? A: Freeware

Ok, so here's what I'm wondering: Workspaces have been around for literally decades now, since at least 1989. (cite) So what the crap Microsoft....after creating an OS that is clearly copying Mac in many ways, are you still neglecting to add workspaces? Macs got Spaces in 2006, so why are you holding off? Sure, in Windows XP you could download a Powertoy, a 3rd party freeware, or even an alternate shell (like bbLean) to do the same, but I'm talking about built in functionality: workspaces. (Or I guess "virtual desktops", but whatever.)
The answer, I guess, is either (a) the "geniuses" at Microsoft think that this isn't a feature that people use (because obviously the other two competitors agree.....NOT), (b) they're waiting to add it to a later version (which is kind of something Apple would do), or (c) they want to keep Windows "different" from the competitors in order to keep people from easily switching over. (Yeah, I'm cynical, and slightly insane.)

Fortunately, people aren't as stupid as Microsoft and decided to make their own. My old favorite was VirtuaWin, which I still love to death; it's just more suited for Windows XP, and since I've moved to W7, I feel as though I need to find one that "fits" more. One that I found is called WindowsPager, and it performs very well, even integrating into the taskbar wonderfully. The downside to this one is that it has 4 desktops exactly: no more, no less. On the plus side, it's got alwaysontop, and more importantly, it's open source, in fact, he gives you the source with every download! Another good one I've heard suggested is Dexpot, which is free for private use. It's pretty much amazing, and here's why.
  • 1-20 desktops
  • Desktop naming
  • Multiple interfaces (Taskbar icon, tray icon, taskbar pagers)
  • Other good stuff (Window Catalouge, Full screen Preview, even a cube!)
  • Rules
It's basically amazing. The only problem is that it's more of a power toy. Did I say problem? Not a problem. It just takes some getting used to. I'm not used to it yet, but then I've only used it for 30 minutes. I'd say that Windows Pager is good if you want straightforward Workspaces. Dexpot is good if you want absolute control, because I'm pretty sure you can get absolute control with it.

So the score is:
Freeware: ∞+1
Microsoft: 0
-Bry
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