Archives for: "October 2009"

My proudest achievement to date

Today it finally happened. After so much waiting and hard work, so many recipes and so much chilled meat and northern spice, Dinendal, Guardian of Cenarius finally has his [Chef's Hat].

Below is my buying the [Chef's Hat] off Derek how exciting! Hi Derek how are you doing?

Now at long last I can wear my new silly hat in raids, and show everyone how much low level rubbish food I can cook, and more importantly how quickly I can do it.

What did you expect me to start pumping out Fish Feasts? Damn those things are expensive and time consuming to get the ingredients, too pricy for this Night Elf.

Below is me proudly wearing my new hat over the frozen wastes of Northrend.

What's next? Well that goofy looking Kalu'ak fishing rod of course! Only 22100 odd more reputation to go.

Anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall recommendations for Windows 7

I've had a couple of people e-mail me asking what they should install on their new Windows 7 computers since some of the firewalls and anti-virus software they've used in the past aren't compatible.

Long time readers of my blog will know the epic battle I've always had with anti-virus. To the point where during the Windows Vista timeframe I didn't run anti-virus. Obviously I don't recommend the average computer user to do that. But I could never find any anti-virus software that was both free, fast and not annoying.

In Windows XP you could tolerate anti-virus and 3rd party firewalls constantly nagging you and having annoying spinning icons in the system tray. In Windows Vista because the OS experience was so much cleaner than Windows XP anti-virus software like AVG or Avast always seemed drastically out of place and frankly noisy and annoying.

I was thrilled when Microsoft announced they were dropping Windows Live OneCare, a rather heavy security suite and replacing it with what was then codename Morro, now Microsoft Security Essentials. Why? Because it promised and delivered a Windows Defender-like anti-virus solution, namely fast, nag-free and out of the way. I would strongly recommend to everyone Security Essentials. It's a lightweight, fast and nag-free anti-malware application. Meaning it deals with viruses and spyware. In my opinion there is no competition anymore in the free anti-virus space, this is it.

Even if you've just brought a Windows 7 PC and have a trial version of Norton or McAfee I'd even recommend removing them and installing this instead.

As for a firewall. Post Windows XP SP2 this is really a non-issue. I'd recommend using the built in firewall. There's no need to clutter the machine with anything else.

And finally as a first line of defence against phishing and driveby malware if you're running Windows 7, you've already got Internet Explorer 8 there. Great. From a security standpoint there's no safer browser. If you're still on Windows XP or Windows Vista I'd suggest upgrading now. I know most of my readers use Firefox and that's fine for more tech-savy users. But I wouldn't recommend it for your average computer user, the data is clear, For phishing Firefox blocks 80% while IE8 blocks 83% and more malware in general Firefox catches less than 30% (other browsers were even less). Internet Explorer 8 was blocking 81%.

In short: Use Internet Explorer 8. Use the built-in firewall and install Security Essentials.

No games installed in Windows 7 Professional?

For those people installing Windows 7 Professional you might notice that the Games Explorer and Start Menu look a bit sparse game wise. By default the games aren't installed in the Professional version.

You can of course quickly add them back.

Press Start
-> Control Panel
--> Programs
---> Turn Windows features on or off

Up the top of the list of components you should see Games. Check that box, or drill into it and specify individual games. And press OK. Within a few moments the games should be installed.

You can also add the Games Explorer on the Start Menu by right-clicking on the Start Menu -> Clicking customize and adding it in the new dialog box and OKing out.

For those still not sure, here's the video tutorial:

Windows 7 themes by the boat load

Windows 7 has launched today, and with it a whole bunch of themes. Not only can you download all the international themes that come with Windows 7, although only one is installed which matches your region now you can grab them all.

In addition you can also download branded themes, for example there's a Ferrari theme and a Gears of War theme and even a Coca Cola theme.

Hey I might have to start releasing the themes I use here. :-)

Following up on the BBC's weak Windows 7 peice

As you may recall a day or two ago I blogged about a pretty major mistake the BBC made in an article looking at Windows 7. Well I'm following up with another issue I have with the review. At the end of the video the chap doing the review throws out:

In truth we've had a couple of problems with programs and updates we've tried to install.

Oh really? At the same time the following is displayed (yeah they couldn't even be bothered to use some screen capture software, instead filming a monitor argh):

Hmmm, unsurprisingly Sun's shoddy Java breaks. I've banned it from my machines because when it does work its always nagging you about updates and it has the nerve to fill up Add/Remove Programs with endless entries about itself and its updates.

Why do I have a problem with this? Well the general public will as always believe this is a Microsoft problem and the usual nonsense will be repeated. It's analogus to reviewing a new Samsung television set and mentioning in the review that your old Sony video tape recorder is broken. It's irrelevent.

The title of the article is A look at what's new in Windows 7 so why are they talking about Java and implying that Windows 7 is responsible for it not working?

Low volume with Audigy 2 ZS on Windows 7

Just a quick note for those blasting Windows 7 onto their machines this week. You may notice lower than usual volume with your SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS. I've had a few e-mails along these lines and it seems to be due to the drivers currently on Windows Update.

I'd recommend trying the latest Daniel K drivers, in the past these have resolved problems I've had with lower than normal volume compared to Windows XP/Vista. At the moment the latest ones are here, however there will be a new release soon to correct a few bugs in these. The latest official drivers are dated from July but I suspect also resolve this issue, although I haven't tested these since the release candidate days.

Windows 7 surpasses Snow Leopard a month before release

I'm surprised I missed this before. But yes Windows 7, an operating system not even released has already surpassed the latest version of Mac OS.

During September Windows 7 usage accounted for 1.52% of traffic measured by Net Applications, and as of this last weekend it broke 2%.

During the same timeframe 10.6 (Snow Leopard) which was released the previous month, accounted for just 0.77% of traffic.

I'm willing to bet with a few weeks of launch Windows 7 will eclipse the entire Macintosh user base. I'll be very interested in October's figures too to see how close it gets.

Come on BBC, Gadgets can be moved anywhere in Windows Vista

So the BBC have been putting up a few articles on Windows 7, it is after all released on Thursday. But they've also made a few mistakes, usually when comparing it to Windows Vista.

What I'll cover here is the Gadget platform. If you recall in Windows Vista you could open the Sidebar on either the left or right sides of the screen which could hold all the Gadgets, or if you wanted to you could drag them off the Sidebar and place them where you wanted, and even close the Sidebar.

Myth: In Windows Vista desktop Gadgets cannot be moved.

False. Here's a picture I took during the development of Windows Vista showing the clock gadget, how you could have multiple instances open all with different settings and time zones, and importantly anywhere you wanted.

Lots of clock gadgets open in Windows Vista all over the screen

It's disappointing when so many people get this wrong and even worse when it is mentioned right at the start of a video covering Windows 7. If they can get one of the very first facts wrong it doesn't fill you with much confidence.

If anything the Gadget platform in Windows 7 is weaker than in Windows Vista. Here's why. With the Sidebar in Windows Vista you could configure it to always be on top, when it was set like this any windows would maximize to the edge of the Sidebar enabling you to always see any Gadgets contained in the Sidebar. In Windows 7 there is no way to achieve the same thing. You have to tell individual Gadgets to be on top, and when that happens they'll obviously cover up areas of any maximized windows, as maximized windows will fill the screen as usual.

Apple can't admit they're scared...

...So Cnet News decided to run an advert for them, written by known Apple fanboy Jim Dalrymple, who enjoys quoting Apple executives exclusively in his articles. This one details how Apple aren't scared of Windows 7, but are actually looking forward to it. Uh huh.

"Users are really growing tired of Windows and the headaches it brings," said Brian Croll, Apple's vice president of Mac OS X worldwide product marketing. "We've seen this with Vista, XP, and the other Windows operating systems going all the way back."

Oh really? There was me thinking an Apple vice president of marketing would say something nice about their own product. Oh wait of course not, this is Apple 90% of their marketing budget is spent bad mouthing the competition.

So has he got anything specific to say, or does he just like making vague subjective statements? No of course not.

Jim goes on to say:

The latest issue will be the amount of work that Windows XP users have to go through to upgrade to Windows 7. The need to erase the hard drive, install Windows 7, re-install applications, and update everything may be too much for some users to handle.

Factual error. You do not need to erase your hard drive to replace Windows XP with Windows 7. Seriously when was the last time you did an install of Windows? 1993? The Windows setup program moves the old Windows, Programs and user data into a folder called Windows.old. It doesn't erase them or even format the drive unless you tell it to. Oh and update everything? Yes because installing updates is so painful post-Vista, again when was the last time this guy used Windows?

If you wanna know about painful patching experience try telling your users about your $30 service packs, which are supposed to fix all the problems in the last release, but actually end up deleting all their data? Oh wait you're in marketing, sorry. Or what about the multi-hundred megabyte patches that are often pushed down, haven't you guys worked out how to just change the parts of a file instead of downloading all new ones yet? I really hope you don't plan on using 1GB mobile broadband with your Macintosh (assuming you can find one that'll work on a Macintosh) you'd use up your whole monthly allowance just keeping the thing patched.

Oh and as for installing applications, well at least if you get Windows 7 you can use your existing applications, if you move to Appleland you not only have to buy new applications, assuming there are equivalent applications for the Macintosh (there's only a tiny percentage of applications compared to Windows), but you still have to install them.

No matter how Apple try and spin it, moving to a Macintosh is more work, and way more expensive.

And at least in Windows land you have the option of using the latest operating system on your 5 year old machine, or even your 8 year old machine as long as its powerful enough. In Appleland if you have a machine that old, it doesn't even work with their new software at all, no matter how powerful it is. They force you to buy a machine because they drop support of old models so quickly. In fact some people who brought a Macintosh just three years ago can't use the latest version of Mac OS. Ouch. Another $2000 down the drain.

Apple is also betting that many XP users who will have to upgrade their computers in order to run Windows 7 will instead choose to check out a Mac. But the cost of the new computer isn't the only thing users have to look forward to; there's also the software price tag.

They're betting that most people don't upgrade and will buy a new computer? Wow talk about making a safe bet, normal computer users don't upgrade the operating system on their computer, they just buy a new one and get a new version with that. Nothing new here folks.

For many consumers, Apple feels it has that covered too, especially with iLife, its suite of applications that includes iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD. iLife is included for free with every Mac.

Amazing stuff there, how about Windows Live Essentials, its free, not free with every (insert specific machine here) just free. That means those people using Windows XP machines from 2001, well its free. You don't need to buy it like equivalent people in the Macintoshland need to do.

And before I get any Apple fanboys saying Windows doesn't have anything like Garageband. I suggest you check out Mixcraft, for those who want really advanced stuff there's always Sony Music Studio too, or for those who want something basic that pretty much does everything automatically there's always Songsmith too.

Yeah we know Apple shareholders and executives are nervous about the next few months, but you don't need to try and spin it so much. And at least Windows doesn't delete your data if you login to the guest account. :-) Ooops.

Major Mac OS X flaw involving data loss

It looks like the new version of Mac OS X has shipped with a rather major flaw.

Users of the new Apple operating system Snow Leopard are experiencing massive data losses when logging into their machines under a guest account.

The problem appears to affect those who had a guest account enabled before upgrading to Snow Leopard.

Users have in some cases lost their entire main profile, including sites, pictures, videos and documents.

[...]

Indications are that the Snow Leopard bug simply treats the principal account like a guest account - meaning that the account profile is wiped clean when logging out.

Users who first log into a guest account and then into their normal account have found it to be completely reset to factory default settings, with none of their personal data or files visible.

I'd advise not letting somebody log into that guest account just yet, and having a backup.

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