Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Windows 7: The First Blog

Ok so, Microsoft released Windows 7 Beta to the world, I thought, yeah that could be fun... But I didn't think I'd really be able to download it within the 2.5m limit. But then, they lifted the limit for two weeks, so I thought, hey cool, why not... (No quotes, because I probably didn't actually think that.)

Over the weekend I proceeded to download it. Getting there was easy enough: microsoft site / windows7, Download the Beta, or something like that. Login, give them information, and get the fancy downloading plug in. Click on the link and up comes a Java applet (remember those?) to pause and resume. I thought it was nice that you could use Firefox or other non IE browser, maybe MS is getting better at that? But it's Akami hosting so who knows. (They have an ActiveX plug in for IE of course). So I start downloading it at 8:10 pm, should be finished by about 10am the next morning, wake up around 8am - oh no it broke at 78%! So now I'm trying again in ActiveX version...

The Install


Apologies for these first two, I was too close to the screen. So after about 3 attempts to boot of DVD (due to ASUS's drive selection method), I came to this screen. Actually I got a "press any key to boot from DVD" message, which was nice; and a "loading files for Setup" screen, which was.. well, obviously necessary.

Then it sat there for five minutes, with no drive activity. (Maybe my disc was weird from the lame ISO burner I got.) Finally I got this next screen:


Ohh, that's pretty! Except again, it took 10 more minutes to get to the following screen:


Sigh: what is up with my disc? I really hope it's not the installer!


Finally the Setup appears to run at a normal speed.


The EULA. And now they have switched to the Vista/Windows 7 style windows. Not sure why they didn't just use the new style in the first screens, but anyway....


Selecting the drive or partition was pretty easy, and nothing broke for me. (Windows Vista still works perfectly fine)


One restart later and it's pretty much finished. At some stage they found some basic drivers for my graphics card and ran at the native resolution. That was clever. Even when I got in W7 I had Aero enabled without installing the nVidia drivers. Nice touch. (Obviously need the nVidia drivers for games though.)

I now have Windows Live Essentials 2009 installed on Windows 7 so I'll be blogging about it further from there. Over time I'll be installing more software on W7, I'll write anything interesting - I'll try to post often from there as I discover it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beta Culture? Yes and No

{N.B.  This is an opinion piece, very little (if any) of what I say here has been backed up by any form of research.}

Hmm, this is interesting. 

While I can share the author's frustration on the whole (as described in the first paragraph), I'm not entirely sure that we're in a "beta culture".  To me, a beta culture would imply that most products we buy are hardly even tested or researched before being brought onto the market - most technology I've encountered seems stable enough and feature rich enough given what I paid for the thing. (I must add at this point that I probably don't encounter as much tech as the blogger on Gizmodo - I know I don't.)

I seem to agree on some points and disagree on others, so I'll just go down the blog responding on topics I know enough about.  (or think I do)

"The bugs. The compromises. The firmware upgrades. The "This will work in the next version." The "It's in our roadmap." The "Buy now and upgrade later." "

Every software has bugs, it is impossible not to - hopefully though users won't likely encounter them.  Having said that though my iRiver is strangely picky about the video formats it plays, even though you think you used the same encoding settings as before.  (Which reminds me, I must try putting video back on it again and working it out.)  As for not-working-features in released software/hardware, I haven't found that much on any decent systems.  The buy now and upgrade later is generally a marketing device anyway.

"Everything is built to end up in the trash a year...."

Well, particularly on the cheaper brands, but generally only technology that is failure prone (like moving parts) or otherwise weak will breakdown so readily.  However, I quite agree that planned obsolescence is wrong and we should move away from it as a society, but I don't feel that this is quite the case in the software industry (or tech which is heavily reliant on underlying software.  However I could write a whole blog post about that so, later.)

"Take the iPhone, for example, one of the most..."

This paragraph about the iPhone lacking basic features (particularly in earlier versions), I'll go along with.  I even heard at work about some of my employers contacts, complaining that you couldn't even jump to a name in the contact list by pressing the letter.  I could even do this on my 5 year old Nokia 3315!  Apparently it was fixed in a later update, don't know about the usability of the feature without a keypad though.  Now, what I believe what Apple is doing is that they are deliberately not including features in initial releases because they know that the phone can be updated so easily (and it tied in to iTunes so much).  They probably also had a (maybe too strict a) timeline for release so some features had to get left out.  It is unfortunate that those left out were also quite basic phone features (or even stability/reliability code). See their problem: they put too much emphasis on the touch screen and accelerometer technologies and quite possibly  not enough on the actually phone.  And the video card problems on the Mac: OK, and yeah, there really shouldn't be.

For sure, today's products are far more complex than those of 20 or 30 years ago.

This fifth paragraph about manufacturing and complexities:  My feeling is that problems in the hardware itself are generally more likely to be found in cheaper products, while software problems are human errors and will be more and more unavoidable with the ever increasing complexity of software applications or drives (or firmware).  Oh and the links don't work in this paragraph.

I agree with the next paragraph.

Following on... Who's to blame? For a culture?  A culture implies that everyone is doing it, and I'm not sure that every manufacturer is.  However, on a case by case basis, the manufacturer's greed and consumers keep buying stuff, so they keep selling it.  (Increase in technology is a product of our society and our mindset and is circular).  And so the next paragraph pretty much says the same thing.

The last two paragraphs about the recession: in most cases I believe that the second-last paragraph is more likely to be correct: I mean if the last paragraph would happen, then everything would be so cheap and unreliable that we'd all stop buying the terrible products before long anyway.

Finally, well personally I don't feel that this economic situation that the world is in won't last for too many years.  Maybe two or three, maybe more, but I'm doubtful that we'll notice much price/quality changes in consumer items as a result, in the time frame.

{As I said, this is entirely an opinion piece.)

Friday, January 2, 2009


Approximately 1.4 hours playing time since the previous blog post where I was stuck at the air duct, and I finish the game.  I'll try to be careful what I say here, don't want to spoil this for anybody.  6.6 hours past two weeks.

I think it took about 7 to 8 hours.  But wow, the ending was good.

So after I get out of the air duct I land in the room of turrets.  They were fun.  I run around and end up at this Aparture Science section with various offices and meeting rooms.  Oh and GLaDOSes core.  Wasn't that a treat!  Highlight to read.Many taunts and sarcasm, and plenty of neurotoxin!  The first time I tried this bit I did it all too slowly, and the neurotoxin went to my head.   So the second time around I dropped the cores on the floor in front of the incinerator, and portaled myself to the button, and portaled the core in the hole, much like they intended.  Then I had enough time for the last core, stuck on the air.

And then I get the nice ending sequence and ... the Still Alive song.  Such a cool song that.