Thursday, October 29, 2009

Windows 7

When I bought my Toshiba X205-sli1 in July of 2008 I seriously considered putting a 64bit operating system on it.  I did the usual Googling to see if anybody else had done it.  While it appeared to be doable, it was reportedly a daunting task mostly because 64bit drivers were hard to come by. 

I even called Toshiba asking for 64bit installation disks and was told to go fly a kite that Toshiba did not support 64bit operating systems and they would, therefore, not supply me with any 64bit Operating System Disks.  Bah!  At that time few computers where sold with 64bit Vista in contrast with the present day when almost all computers, excepting netbooks, are sold with Vista 64bit or Windows 7 64bit.

I finally talked myself down from the 64bit ledge.  With the help of some friends that said it just wasn't worth it, don't go there, and Bwwahahahahahahah! Fool! whenever I would bring up the subject. 

When Windows 7 Beta appeared I was sorely tempted to give it a try - in the 64bit version of course.  But I pussied out.  I had just gone through a system reinstall that left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I just didn't want to rock the boat anymore.  As time went by and I kept hearing how awesome Windows 7 was I knew I was going to break down and buy it as soon as it came but, even more significant, I was going to go with the 64bit version.  Finally.

The first computer to get an upgrade to Windows 7 wasn't my screaming machine.  Oh no.  The first machine in our house to get updated: the lowly Acer netbook.  Yeah that's right.  The Intel (sub)Atom(ic) netbook.  I was forced to download a copy because the netbook has no CD/DVD drive.  A student friend was kind enough to score me a copy using his discount. 

The netbook actually survived the upgrade nicely.  It is as speedy or even perkier than it was under XP.  Although it can't handle the Aero Themes is does quite nicely with the basic setup.

When I finally got my hands on a Family 3 Pack for Windows 7, my oldest son grabbed the box, removed the wrapper and was ready to slam the disk in his drive.  He's been all fired up for the upgrade.  He was delighted to get my old laptop as a hand me down but as soon as his brother got a slightly better laptop the oldest has been in a snit wanting a new laptop for himself.  Dream on, baby, dream on. 

The best thing about Windows 7 isn't the Aero themes or the Task Bar, it's how much more efficiently it uses resources.  The best example is my old, handed down HP laptop.  What a piece of dung that machine was.  Had I known I would have never bought it but, alas, we all have 20/20 hindsight.  Additionally, HP is not offering Windows 7 support for this particular series of laptops.  Yes, I said SERIES of machines. Here is its Windows Experience Score under Vista.

Yeah, that's right, a whopping 2.5.  I recall it being a 3.0 when I first bought the machine but after updating the video driver I WENT DOWN HALF A POINT.  I was not happy about this turn of events.

So how much difference did switching from 32bit Vista to 64bit Windows 7 make?  A good question indeed.

I'm VERY impressed with the improvement!  This is with the stock video driver loaded by Windows 7.  I did go hunt up a beta version of a 64bit driver released by NVidia but didn't bother installing it after I saw how well it was running without it.  Even without HP's support, Windows 7 managed to load drivers for all this hardware and everything works.  Everything.  My son is delighted by this new zippy OS.

The other son's laptop showed a marginal improvement in score but his machine had an issue with the wireless card.  I was listening to This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast today.  The panel was discussing Windows 7 and the few reported problems people were having with it after the public release.  Turns out one of them had a problem with W7 trying to install an older wireless driver than what was already on the machine.  This is the exact issue I am having with my younger son's machine.  Sounds like something that needs to be addressed immediately.  Oddly, this machine is supported for Windows 7 by HP but no driver for this particular wireless card is listed for any of the versions of Windows 7.  Very odd, indeed.

I cruised by Toshiba to see if they had anything for my machine in the way of Windows 7 support.  I was shocked when I saw they had a whole gambit of drivers for W7 32bit AND for W7 64bit.  I downloaded all of them but wasn't sure I would be needing them.  I had some hope after my previous three experiences that the OS would find all the appropriate drivers for my hardware.

After I installed W7 it was obvious that I would need to install the video driver I had downloaded from Toshiba.  I had read some instructions that some of the chipset drivers would be needed so I cherry picked those out of the list and installed them.  Then I picked a few other drivers I thought I should load but left the rest to install if needed. 

It didn't take long for Windows 7 to let me know that there were some issues with some of the hardware and I needed to address these problems.  I pretty much just let Windows 7 tell me what to do.  I was so pleased when the results showed that I needed to download a driver from the Toshiba site.  "Click here to download the driver from Toshiba."  That's exactly what it said.  I clicked.  It immediately downloaded the file I needed.  I installed it.  It was that easy.  THAT EASY!  Who knew it could be that easy?

So, you want to see my Windows Experience Index?  Do ya, huh?  Of course you don't.  You've already moved on to the Fail Blog or xkcd.  Well screw you.  Here it is anyway.

Hahahahhaha!  I kid, I kid.  That's for my netbook.  :)

Toshiba before:

Toshiba after:

I did install a faster hard drive along with my upgrade to Windows 7 so that did help my score somewhat.  The RAM improvement confuses me since it is still the original ram but it might be related to the ability of the 64bit system to address all 4gb instead of just 3gb of the 4gb.

Regardless of the cause, it in undeniable that Windows 7 improves the performance of your machine. 

Is it worth upgrading?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Windows 7

I was probably more excited about the release of Windows 7 than the average person.  I pre-ordered the maximum of 3 units allowed back in the summer.  Since then I realized that I needed a copy for the desktop and the newly purchased Netbook.

I was able to get a download copy for the Netbook since it doesn't have a CD/DVD drive yesterday when the software was released.  I pre-ordered from thinking that I would actually have them in my hands on the 22nd but that wasn't the case.  Hell I didn't even have a shipping notice for my order.

After I did my pre-order Microsoft released information about a Family Pack of 3 licenses that would be sold for a limited amount of time for $150 or the equivalent of the pre-order price per license.  If I had known that I would be able to walk into a store yesterday and but it for the same price as the pre-order I wouldn't have bothered with the pre-order. 

As it turned out, Sam's Club had the Family Pack on their website for $129 plus a nomial delivery charge.  Seriously.  I canceled my Amazon order (for some reason they only showed me ordering 2 copies when I know for a fact I ordered 3) and ordered 2 Family Packs with expedited shipping for less than $50/license.  I have sold one of the extras to a friend (not Zerb) and will try to talk my father in law into using the additional one for his ancient computer that is currently running XP.  Either way I'm sure I can find somebody that will take that last license off my hands.

I know what you are thinking, "Enough about the shopping already!  Get to the review!"

It took somewhere between 2 and 3 hours to download the software to the usb drive that I was going to be installing from.  The software unpacked itself in little time and was ready to install.  From start to finish it was about an hour.  Considering that there was an initial error closing down a piece of software I had running under XP and that it took me about 109387029475 tries to get my license key entered properly it went speedily, with no oversight needed except for the key entry that apparently I suck at. 

Keep in mind that I was installing this on a Netbook with an Atom processor - by no means a power house computer.  I was told by the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor that, while this machine would not be capable of running in Aero mode, everything else would be fine. 

When it first started up the video resolution was all wrong.  I had turned down the option to go online and download updates prior to the installation so there was some hope that this would resolve itself after the initial updates were installed. 

The opening credits are new yet familiar.  Startup is definitely swift.  Apparently the Windows development team figured out that nobody likes twiddling their thumbs while the OS loads.

Sure enough after the first round of updates my video was back to its stunning 1366x768 resolution.  I noticed right off that it was running an Aero theme which came as a surprise considering the Upgrade Advisor told me that the system would not support Aero.  I did notice a significant improvement in speed when I went to a Basic theme so I will stick with it in favor of performance.

This configuration performed quite well under XP so I was curious to see how it would do under a more bloated OS.  Well, it sure looks and feels as speedy as it did under XP when the Aero is turned off. 

I am still getting used to the new task bar.  I do like that I can select which processes stay on in the notification area and which you don't need to see all of the time.  It feels sleeker and more functional.  The combined task bar buttons are also very nice.  The Aero thumbnail view is very helpful when choosing which of the combined tasks you want to pick but the list view is equally as functional.

One of the most noticeable changes is the Windows Explorer.  The addition of Libraries might prove to be very helpful.  I have very few files on this Netbook so I don't have much opportunity or need for Windows Explorer but I do see the potential for saving time and steps when trying to access my files.

While the video driver issue resolved itself after a reboot I did have issues with one other device.  Audio worked fine but I went ahead and downloaded the manufacturer's W7 driver instead of using the built in driver.  The touch pad worked well enough but the multi-touch functions were disabled until I installed that OEM driver.  Just for thoroughness I also installed chipset and the media card reader drivers.

While W7 found the networked Vista computers it wasn't until I changed the Workgroup name on the Netbook to match the Vista machines that I was able to see the Buffalo Linkstation attached to my router.  I just installed the network printer with no effort at all.  How awesome is that!  I have read that the networking was made much simpler and it is significantly easier to move files around from machine to machine.  I have had issues doing this with Vista - I sometimes gave up and did a two stage move using the NAS.

Overall I am pleased with W7 and look forward to getting it installed on the rest of the machines in our house.  Part of me was dreading the process but eager for the result.  My experience with this first installation has me dreading it less and less. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Runner Runner Crubs

gadzooks64: I AM NOT A BABY SEAL!

Oh sure, it's all fun and games until somebody gets sucked out on by runner runner crubs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CrackBerry Update

Or not, as the case may be.

Those of you that own a CrackBerry know what I'm talking about.

The updates to the operating system seem to come fast and furious.  No problem for those that never bother to install the Desktop Manager software and couldn't care less about keeping their phone up to date AKA The Other Half.  He's had a CrackBerry for a year or so and never updated the damn thing.  Never.  Ever.  Now something doesn't work.  Go figure.

In the mean time I have been fighting the urge to update my OS - even going so far as downloading the leaked and hybrid versions but never quite having the courage to actually install one.  Then there was an 'Official' release!  I was all over than like stink on poop.  (He he he, not what you were expecting from my potty mouth was it?)  I tried four times to load that OS onto my phone but it failed each time.  Oh friggin joy.  I was lucky enough to get the old stuff back on to it but lost all of my 3rd party applications including all of the themes I had made myself.  Well, they weren't GONE gone, just needed to be reloaded. 

Never mind that I was trying to do this the weekend that all my degenerate friends were coming over to my house and just before we were supposed to leave to take the kids bowling.  No pressure.  No worries.  My phone is ONLY MY LIFE DAMNIT I NEED MY PHONE AND MY APPS RIGHT FRIGGIN NOW!

Deep breaths.  In and out.

All was well with the world by the time we go done with bowling I had reconfigured everything back to normal.  That update was pulled for whatever reason - I'm sure it had to do with buttloads of people not being able to get it to run.  But that's just my guess.

Recently an update was released for another carrier but rumor had it that it would work just fine on my phone but I wasn't the least bit interested in trying that again.  Silly me.  Well today that update was finally officially released for my phone. 

I download, install and try to install on my phone but uh, wtf, denied.  I search around a bit and find a couple of things to try but I still get the same error I got when I tried to install the last update.  I eventually end up at the BlackBerry web site where I tell it I want to update my software and it fires up the Loader.  Then, oddly, it tells me that my Loader needs to be updated.  Ooookay.  Please, let's update the Loader.  After the Loader is updated the installation is started again.  This time I get an error related to the same error as before but this time it says please disconnect and reconnect the phone to continue the installation.  Well, that's certainly an improvement over just crashing and burning.

Oddly, I had just connected my phone this morning and decided while I was at it I would do a complete backup of the data and the 3rd party applications.  As I type this I have just restored the applications and am waiting on pins and needles for the phone to reboot so I can see if I will finally have everything back to normal.  I never fails that something gets effed up when I do things like this. 

Recently I set up an email account at the Verizon BlackBerry site.  A harmless act.  Never intended to FUCK STUFF UP.  But, alas, I found out shortly afterwards that my Google Calendar was no longer syncing to my phone correctly.  Turns out BlackBerry phones set up a calendar for EVERY EMAIL ACCOUNT YOU SET UP ON THE PHONE.  Yeah, cause everybody I know keeps separate calendars for each email address they use.  Every appointment I created after setting up that email account existed only on my phone and never made it to my Google Calendar.  I did finally figure out what was going on but not after I had several appointments that weren't showing up when they were supposed to.  I'll be curious to see if this OS update creates some 'issues' like this. 

After all of this, I see why some people just don't bother.  If you have it working perfectly well for your purposes why fuck with it? 

Cause fucking with it is so oooo oooo o much fun.  ;)

Humor Writer?

I usually end up getting a "Har har har" for my efforts.  I call that a victory.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

PokerSlut Tour XV $1 Rebuy!

Say it with me!

Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy!
Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy!
Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy! Rebuy!

There.  Didn't that feel good?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Crossword Puzzle

I'm a subscriber of the New York Times Crossword Puzzles.  I'm thrilled when I can get the whole thing filled.  I'm up to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays (sometimes).  I've given up on the rest.  That whole damn theme thing is waaaaaaaaay beyond my skillz (or lack there of).

When this came up in my reader you KNOW it was going to be something I was going to get a kick out of.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing...

I realize I have been one lazy blogger again.  I blame the season.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the chilly weather, the turning leaves.  I have such a wonderful view from my window. 

So, what have I been doing instead of blogging?  Hmmm.  A little bowling, a little poker, a lot of bookkeeping for the Swim Team, some HOA stuff and dealing with my puppy.  Not a lot of anything in particular but enough to make blogging the last thing on my list of things to do.

Bowling has been picking up.  Still not where I'd like to be but things seem to be turning around.

I did the Take 2 offer on Full Tilt Poker and, of course, lost my ass.  I was playing .50/1, 1/2 and 2/4 limit poker.  I don't know what it is about the 1/2 tables but they consistently give me the worst beats ever.  After I had completed the Take 2 I went back to the .25/.50 PLHE tables and made some of it back but not nearly enough to have a profitable month.  As I have said before, losing sucks. 

I think I have finally given up on the home cash game I've played in for some time.  The stakes are low enough to be virtually meaningless to most of the players which makes it much more difficult to play poker.  It degenerates quickly into a flipping and/or chasing game with some very bad loose players and even sometimes with the players that you'd think would know better. 

After many, many hours, I think I have finally got the books for the Swim Team under control.  There's still more work to do: outstanding bills to collect, upcoming meets to pay for, but I think it should be pretty smooth sailing from here on out.

The HOA is going to have work on autopilot if no one steps forward to volunteer.  I'm so done with this by the end of the year.  Sooner if I can swing it.  I'm really surprised and disappointed by my neighbors.  Most of these people are successful professionals and they can't spare a few minutes a month to help keep this neighborhood up and running but they are more than willing to complain about anything and everything while expecting something to be done without any effort on their part. 

My puppy is a sweetheart.  I really do enjoy having him around but I was hoping my kids would be a little more involved with him than they are.  I'm sure every parent that has been suckered into buying their kids a pet has the same lament.  I look forward to the day when I can leave the house without guilt.  I have to crate him for now until he's completely house trained.  Some days it really puts a crimp in my style but so far it hasn't been too bad.  I can't wait for the time when I don't look around the house for presents he's left me.