Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

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Windows 7 / Microsoft

October 24, 2009

I have been running Windows 7 now for a few weeks after getting a TechNet Plus subscription. This was the cheapest way for me to upgrade all of my machines. I like windows 7 a lot and have no major issues with it however I will say I never had any major issues with Vista either.

On to what this post is about its me have a good old whinge basically but what the heck sometimes its good to have a whinge 🙂

  1. The upgrade pricing for Windows 7 is too high when you consider the current economic environment. It would have cost me over $AU1500 to upgrade all my machines hence the TechNet subscription.
  2. Microsoft Australia provided no low pre order pricing as happened in other markets and at this stage have not committed to having a family pack license for Windows 7. The loyal windows user was treated with disdain it was only if you bought a new machine or bought a copy of Vista in the 3 months leading up to its release you could at least get a low cost upgrade but the loyal user was just asked to bend over and take it. In general the marketing and pricing of Windows 7 in Australia has been pathetic.
  3. Vista Ultimate users – Microsoft raised the cost of the upgrade on this and as part of the upgrade you lost any Ultimate extras you may have had. You couldn’t upgrade to another version of Windows 7 you were stuck with Ultimate. Ask Microsoft about this and all you get is silence. Very bloody poor Microsoft.
  4. Minor niggle this one but a niggle all the same. Windows Media Player 12 like previous versions has no support for Podcasts. There is a half assed RSS method of getting podcasts but compared to getting them in iTunes its pretty much in the dark ages. I however has used WMP11 as my main music/podcast player in Vista and loved the WMP toolbar that you could anchor on the right of the taskbar. This is missing in WMP12 in windows 7 and is a PITA. It made me go back to using iTunes as my music/podcast player as it has a toolbar.
  5. I am not a fan of the new taskbar (in fact I have set it up so it behaves like it did in XP/Vista and restored the quick launch bar) it comes across as Microsoft trying to make their own Apple Dock something which I am not a fan of either.

That’s about it like I said nothing major just a good old whinge.

Currently listening to : When All Is Said and Done – Toni Childs (from the “Keep the Faith” album)

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Upgrading my PC

July 4, 2009

Every 12 to 18 months i go thru the process of upgrading the motherboard and CPU. For a small cost I get a performance upgrade. Depending I my needs and what I have changed since the last upgrade there may also be an upgrade in memory, graphics card and HDD. In the last upgrade I did all this plus installed a bigger power supply. I have been using the same Antec case for the last 3 years. Its big and give me plenty of room to move.

The specs before my upgrade were

  • O/S – Vista Ultimate (64 bit)
  • Processor – Intel Core 2 Duo – 6600 @ 2.40GHz
  • Memory – 3GB
  • Video – Nvidia GeForce 8600GT – 512mb
  • HDD – 1 x 120GB SATA (Primary) – 1 x 500GB SATA  – 1 x 1TB SATA
  • DVD/CD Combo reader/writer
  • Memory Card reader
  • Monitors – 21″ Samsung 215tw(1680 x 1050) – 24″ Dell (1920 x 1200)
  • Keyboard & mouse – Logitech MX3200 wireless
  • Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
  • Altec Lanseng 621 Speakers

The specs after the upgrade are (new parts in bold)

  • O/S – Vista Ultimate  SP2 (64bit)
  • Processor – Intel Quad Core Q8300 2.5 GHz
  • Motherboard – MSI P45 Neo3
  • Memory – 8GB DDR2
  • Video 9800GT – 512mb
  • HDD – 1 x 150GB 10,000rpm (Primary) 2 x 1TB SATA (1 of the TB drives is new)
  • DVD/CD Combo reader/writer changed from IDE unit to SATA unit
  • Memory Card reader
  • Monitors – 21″ Samsung 215tw(1680 x 1050) – 24″ Dell (1920 x 1200)
  • Keyboard & mouse – Logitech Wave 2.4 /  Logitech MX1100 Mouse  both wireless
  • Altec Lanseng 621 Speakers
  • Power Supply -OCZ StealthXStream 500W SLI

IMG_2660

It runs nicely and scores 5.9 in all categories on the Windows Experience Index. The fast primary makes program opening very snappy. One of the TB drives is a “Green” drive and there is a 1-2 second delay before the drive spins up. Not a major issue but I wouldn’t use one as a primary.

A majority of the parts where sourced online or from a local contact. For online I can recommend PC Case Gear.  Great prices and great service.

My next upgrade may or may not be to Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit. The pricing of Windows 7 upgrades (I want to do 3 other machines as well as this one) is on the high side. I was running Windows 7 RC on my HTPC (built between main PC upgrades) and really liked it but I have not had any issues with Vista on any of the 3 PCs that run it (one older one runs XP – this will upgraded later this year) and with the pricing on 7 I find it hard to justify the OS upgrade. It will be a wait and see on the OS upgrade.

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Windows 7 Beta – early impressions

January 13, 2009
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I downloaded the beta of Windows 7 on the weekend and installed it in a virtual PC. There was no issues there the install was smooth and straight forward. So far its been pretty good and certainly very stable and cant be that far off of being fully cooked.

Now a couple of things that I don’t like.

01 –  Windows Media Player 12 – no podcast support still and I couldn’t find the media player toolbar that shows when I minimize it as it does with Vista/XP with media player 11.  There is no excuse for this and I can only hope this will be rectified before the final release.

02 – the second is the new taskbar. I gave it a chance but I prefer the way I use the Taskbar and Quick launch bar combo in vista and XP. With windows seven it appears to a combination of the taskbar and the quick launch that feels like a step backwards to me. To see what is running it is not always obvious because the indicators on the taskbar are so subtle. With some programs if I want to launch a second instance I cant click on the taskbar that just max or minimizes the currently running instance. I have to go thru the menu to launch a second instance.

Image3
this is how I work with the taskbar / quick lauch bar in Vista/XP. I can see what is running easily and can launch new instances quickly and with one click.

whereas the Windows 7 bar looks like this.Capture
Here you can see firefox running but when you have a few apps running it can be harder to pick.

At this stage I wouldn’t be looking at upgrading from Vista straight away. The taskbar feels like a step back and like Microsoft is trying to emulate the Apple dock which am not a fan of either. It just feels like its half complete and as a result is half as useful

Update: I have learnt of the centre mouse button press to launch a new instance. In someways this is even worse when in Visual Studio and FireFox I middle click to close tabs

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The Xbox 360 “NXE”

October 18, 2008

Despite Microsofts pathetic Xbox 360 support I managed thru the help of the retailer to get it replaced and I upgraded to 360elite. However now with the new interface coming I may regret it.

Just spent a bit of time looking at the new vbox 360 interface. Talk about "wii wannabe” . It looks juvenile and Microsoft should be honest and rename the console the Wii360.  I already have a Wii I dont need another one.

What really gets me is this from the FAQ

Q Is the Update optional? Can I keep my old interface if I want to?

A Why would you want to? The New Xbox Experience is the same experience you had before and so much more! As a matter fact, the blades that people have come to know and love are integrated directly in to the guide button so that every aspect of the Xbox experience is always only one button click away. The new Xbox experience is built with community as its foundation and requires everyone to upgrade

Why would I want to ? Why wouldnt I and why should I if I dont like this new interface. The arrogance oozing from this reply is just amazing I guess they learned that from the Vista team. I can see the people responsible for the upgrade have a caught the “smug”.

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Things that Annoy Me.

September 18, 2008

Its been a while since I been here  so I guess I should write something couldn’t think of anything vast so thought I would write a few things that annoy me.

  1. Itunes for Windows – the boring grey drab interface. It looks badly out of place on windows machines. Apple do suck at writing software for windows.
  2. Itunes for windows – why is not capable of monitoring folders and  adding any new content automatically. Windows Media Player does it. It is not that hard.
  3. Safari for windows – why the hell did apple both with this poor excuse for a browser. It cant even render fonts clearly. It also provides further proof that Apple suck at Windows software.
  4. OS fanboys who assume switching to their OS of choice will cure all your ills. GET OVER IT AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Despite what they think a lot of people use another OS because they want to.
  5. Vista FUD – the media and alleged experts are responsible for most of this. Despite what they tell U it will not cause your immediate death or will your computer blow up. I run it on 3 computers and guess what I am still alive and I like it.
  6. Google Gmail – FFS Google give people the option to turn conversation view off. Despite what you think not everybody thinks it is a great thing and fix up IMAP so it works properly if I say on my client to exclude a “folder” don’t continue to download it.

On another note lets talk about communicating with the community. Microsoft cop a lot of heat for a lot of things but out of Apple, Google and Microsoft, Microsoft is miles ahead of the others. A lot of the teams and individuals at Microsoft  have blogs. Apple  like there hardware and software is a closed shop. Sure google has blogs but how many allow you to leave comments and how many of their authors supply contact emails ? Not many, if any to quote Scribe. The Microsoft blogs nearly all allow you to leave comments (even bad ones) and many provide contact emails. Most of them will go out of there way if you have a genuine query or issue to help you. So well done to Microsoft for this you should be congratulated for the effort you put in.

Ok thats enough from me. Catch ya later.

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Xbox360 support is pathetic

May 23, 2008

I have owned a Xbox360 for about 8 months now and haven’t had a problem with it. Its stored in a very well ventilated area and is kept dust free.

Anyway the other day I was playing Forza2 and towards the end the display started breaking up. I dint think to much as it went away and I turned off the unit as I had finished playing. A few hours later I tried to start and I get 1 red light and a E74. I looked up the error on Microsoft’s site and went thru all troubleshooting (different cable, removed HDD and unplugged from network).

Next step was to get onto the website service.xbox.com and check my warranty. After registering I am informed by the site that my warranty has expired. WTF!!! when I went to school 8 does not equal 12.

I attempted to call the support line and after being in hold for 20 minutes without answer I hung up. I then decided to contact support from the website.  Talk about inept. You ask basic questions and you get an totally unrelated and pointless answer. I may as well written about growing grass for the amount of attention they seem to pay. Its just not 1 occasion its been 4 at this stage. I feel like I am banging my head against a brickwall the support is absolutely hopeless. I have tried to call them 2x since and both times given up after a long period on hold and call back well lets just say I am still waiting

At this point I have gone out an ordered a PS3 because regardless what ends up happening with the Xbox I have had enough of this pathetic incompetent support.

Update: several more email and load of pointless answers. Picked up the PS3 today and all is going well.

Update 2 : 17 emails this weekend from support and not a straight answer amongst them. At least they are consistently pathetic.

Update 3 : 10 more emails and still not a straight answer or any attempt to actually help. XBOX360 support is beyond useless

Update 4: a list of the support ticket numbers  I could find

SRX1068079470ID
SRX1068149549ID
SRX1068146782ID
SRX1068134712ID
SRX1068133281ID
SRX1068156199ID
SRX1068157979ID
SRX1068160690ID
SRX1068220202ID
SRX1068378360ID
SRX1068506525ID
SRX1068564584ID
SRX1068602819ID
SRX1068603676ID
SRX1068606516ID
SRX1068689044ID
SRX1068054023ID
SRX1068044021ID
SRX1068041998ID
SRX1068077773ID
SRX1067878722ID
SRX1067969544ID
SRX1068713932ID
SRX1068782741ID
SRX1069037263ID
SRX1069129126ID
SRX1069140309ID
SRX1069239125ID
SRX1069334549ID
SRX1069414566ID
SRX1069483804ID
SRX1069541146ID
SRX1069568403ID

My advice would be to avoid the Xbox360 like the plague and get a PS3 instead. Once microsoft have your money thats when support stops being useful.

Update 5: Vincent called today and left a voice message (it was 11am and I was at work so why they would call at that time I have no idea). He wanted details of my problem that I have detailed several times already to support. The level of "patheticness" shown by support continues to amaze me.

Update 6: Vincent called again today he obviously has no concept of time as it was nearly 2pm and again I was at work.

Update 7: Still going. Dont really care about the xbox anymore which is much the same attitude Xbox support has towards customers.

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It’s the little things

April 23, 2008

The more I use technology the more I have come to the conclusion that its the little things that cause the most frustration.

As I previously blogged I am using a copy of Visual Studio 2008 Pro after upgrading from 2005 (well not really upgraded I still have 2005 installed as well). While 2008 is a sound product there are a couple of little things that are absolutely frustrating.

1 – absolute positioning of controls.  Labels (in particular) and some other controls cannot be positioned absolutely without editing the source code. Ok for 1 or 2 but an absolute pain in the ass. Microsoft say this will be fixed with service pack 1 but then give no indication of when seemingly brushing it off as a minor thing. Well for me its not it made me stop using 2008 and revert back to 2005 for web development.

2. – deployment projects do not add the desktop icon , start menu shortcut when you install it on the client machines. The program installs fine but you have to manually add links on the start menu and the desktop. Again not a seemingly big problem but a major league pain in the ass.

I would advise anyone to avoid using 2008 for serious development until the small but incredibly frustrating issues are sorted.

Update: I have solved the installer issue. I uninstalled Visual Studio 2005 (I will move to a virtual PC) and this process now functions as expected.

Update 2 : Missed mentioning another one of the little things in VS 2008 that annoys me. With the web designer you cant select multiple controls again VS2005 not an issue.

On a side note – I would like to look at Microsofts expression products but since I use Firefox 3 Beta 5 I cant use siverlight so I cant get any product info and I refuse to use IE.