Archive for the ‘windows’ Category
After reading this article, I would have to agree that Vista is simply a dog. It’s not even close to XP, let alone Ubuntu in the performance department. I do give it points for eye candy, but I have enough trouble with it that I only keep the Vista side for gaming and do most of my daily tasks in Ubuntu (and XP since we use Visual Studio at work).
One of the major sticking points of Vista is the absolute doggedness in which it copies large files over my network. Sometimes it plain just doesn’t work! I’ll try to watch some Divx files and they’ll transfer over so slowly that it’s just unwatchable (that’s if they even transfer at all). This is even a known bug and is supposedly addressed in SP1…we’ll see! When I switch over to Ubuntu, it just works and smoothly at that.
I’ve also run into a several occasions where not only does the Vista-side not sleep or hibernate properly, but it will actually bork power management thus not allowing the m1330 to charge its battery until I reboot. Oops! So not only will my machine not hibernate, but it will not charge when plugged in! Doh!
Anyway, I’m thinking of having moving my home server back over to XP since all I really need it to do is download TV torrents to protect against Tivo snafus, SyncToy files around my network, run mozy backup, and host my top secret financial spreadsheets. I’m sure XP SP3 would be a great candidate for this. Of course I’m considering Ubuntu on this machine as it’s free and I’m getting pretty good at using it on a regular basis. My main concern however is to ensure that my designated backup solutions just work. In this case, mozy would need something that runs on Ubuntu (which they do not have yet). The least trouble would to just let Vista live on that machine, take the patches as they roll in, and not rock the multiplicative onsite/offsite auto-backup rube-goldberg machine that I have cobbled together. This will most likely be the case but I’ll probably end up cleaning things out on the server and XP will probably be my go-to OS.
I’m rather curious why Microsoft would invest so much time and effort to ship SP3 on XP when Vista is supposed to be the new flagship. I mean, being a former MS employee, I know of the inner-workings and can see how this could happen, but honestly this sort of thing just confuses everyone. Can anyone tell me the difference between MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger, Office Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger? I’ll give you a hint…two of them are the same exact thing with different names, but the other two had distinct teams working on them even though 95% of the functionality overlaps.
Ok, ok, how about this one: Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Desktop. Two separate apps that do just about the same thing except one is bundled in Windows and another comes as a download from Windows Live. As you can see, confusion and duplicative efforts are Microsoft’s middle name even when it comes to their flagship Windows products.
It’s been a while since I’ve been over on the Ubuntu side of the house. Aside from the (I hate to use the word, but there is nothing else really suitable) drama at home, I had a midterm last week and decided to go Vista for it. Why? For the most part, it had to do with several episodes of wifi/firefox conniptions that Ubuntu had the last few times I used it. I’m not sure what happened each time, but the computer just had hardcore lockups each time. I mean, no mouse, no ctrl+alt+backspace, no nada. Since my midterm was a one time deal, meaning that if something bad happened during the test, I would not be given a second chance to open it and try again, I had to choose Vista since it’s been stable. I was disappointed for choosing Vista, but I just couldn’t afford another lockup during something as important as a midterm. Anyway, I’ll have to go back and see if I can dig a little to find out what really happened during these particular bad episodes.
I’ve been running Miro on my Vista server for some time (Miro is a free, video podcast downloader that also does double duty as a tv torrent vacuum). I use it to grab backups for all of my favorite shows in case my Tivo dumps them before I can watch them or if there is a conflict that the two Tivos can’t manage to work out.
While working at home today, I decided to sift the couple hundred gigs of free podcast videos and TV shows that Miro has been downloading. Using the Vista side of the m1330, I found that the videos kept stuttering and would eventually stop transferring data altogether. I thought the Airport Extreme that dishes out wifi was having a bad day so I rebooted it. Unfortunately, that did not help. I switched over to Ubuntu to see if I could play my videos and after installing a codec pack, totem whipped through them without any issues.
I’m not sure what’s happening on the Vista side of the house, but the boys and girls in Redmond best be shippin’ SP1 soon or I’m going to forced to delete that partition and give it all over to Ubuntu.
I decided to make Ubuntu a little bit more “homey” and “user-ish,” I would install some sort of widget engine like Yahoo’s Konfabu-Widgets or Windows Gadgets (soon to be renamed Windows Live Gadgets Premium Super Edition Beta, I’m sure). I found Jackfield which looks pretty nice, but has been the red-headed stepchild of this particular developer’s world (ie, it’s been cast aside for other more important projects, I suppose).
Anyway, I grabbed the sources and have been trying to run the darned thing. I first I had to install SVN and get reacquainted since I’ve been using perforce at work as of late. Well, first I had to figure out if I even had svn installed or not (“svn –version” tells me that I ain’t got nada). So after installing, and grabbing the sources, I tried to run it and it complains about the fact that it can’t import the Image module. Hmmmm….I figure it’s looking for some sort of include file in the python language and off I go hunting for that.
Well, I found that I have three whole versions of python installed and one of them must have the Image module somewhere in there. Yet even more hunting and I find that I may be able to use /etc/environment to hold the PYTHONPATH variable. I tried and it didn’t seem to do much, but I bet I need a restart.
That’s one of the things I absolutely LOVE about linux thus far: immediate shut downs. The Windows has worked for the longest time is that it seems to really thing that the user is beneath it. “Oh, so you want to shut down huh? Well you’ll just have to wait till I’m done shredding the hard drive to death. So there!”
This is one aspect of Windows that I’ve always despised. 95, XP, and yes, even the much loathed Vista have this very problem of treating the user like a 2nd class citizen. I absolutely hate shutting down my XP box because it’ll usually take 5 or 10 minutes to actually go from me pleading with it to shut down to it actually shutting down. And forget about starting up. Once you go down that road, you may as well login, go grab a coffee, play some foosball, catch up on your soaps, and maybe go for a walk before even thinking about launching a program. WTF, indeed.
Anyway, Ubuntu has thus far been absolutely delightful in this regard. Granted I haven’t “crapified” my Ubuntu install with little widgets (like Jackfield) or other normal memory-suckers like I have with my standard Windows installs.
So in my couple of weeks of being a bleeding edge Ubuntu adopter, I’ve noticed a few things that are quite a bit different than the Windows world. What I’ve noticed (which is different from Windows) is that in the Linux world, graphical user interfaces are user selectable. So when you install Ubuntu, the default “Windows-like system” is called “Gnome desktop”. There is also something called KDE which you can install with Kbuntu. I’m sure there are others, but I haven’t researched this enough to find the others and understand what the differences are. This is sort of like how things were before Windows came out. DOS users could install sort-of graphical file managers like Xtree Pro (man doesn’t that bring you back?) or others to manage files graphically. The underlying system was MS-DOS (or ProDOS or DrDOS if you swung that way), but the GUI on top was of your own selection. Sorry if this is stating the obvious, but coming from the Windows world, it took me a little bit of reading to figure out that, “hey, I could swap out the GUI and use a totally different set of apps if I wanted to.”
So what does this mean? Well it means there is an underlying difference in design choices of the various Linux flavors versus Windows versus MacOS that are reflections of their target user bases (or perhaps their user bases have grown out of the sort of design choices that were made). Again, sorry for stating the obvious, but these are my “Windows-colored” perceptions.
Windows tends to be a favorite for large corporations since they like things that are relatively easy to use or at least “comfortable” for the non-techies so less time is spent by users configuring and maintaining their system and more time is spent actually working. The downside of course is that choices are limited and much of the more usable software is quite pricey (witness Adobe’s full suite now hovering at about the price of a Vespa). It’s also a favorite for the average home user around the world since it is easy to pirate, runs on just about any old heap you can buy second hand for cheap, and is easy for the non-techy home user to figure out.
Mac OS is a favorite among creative types and affluent college students. These people will pay a little more to get a well designed, tightly integrated computing experience. Apple focuses on the mainstream consumer’s needs like photos, video, and now blogging rather than Windows’ grafted on experience for these aspects of our computing lives. Also with Windows, these things are rather confusing. Witness the confluence of “Windows Mail” and “Windows Live Mail Desktop”. Why are there two? “Windows Photo Gallery” and “Windows Live Photo Gallery” — again two? And remember this one? Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger (now Windows Live Messenger), and Office Communicator — three? Are you kidding me? Coming from the belly of the Microsoft world, I know that things unfurl this way in Redmond because of the numerous VPs running around the company trying to wring as many dollars out or Bill and Steve (well, Ray and Steve now). It is something that I absolutely abhor and something that made me realize that Microsoft really is in trouble. They really should take a step back and maybe take a page out mini-microsoft’s book and figure this thing out. The Windows team really should focus on just that: Windows. Make it solid, make it tight. Leave the lifestyle apps to those guys in Windows Live and SHIP THE OS WITH THESE THINGS PREINSTALLED so I don’t have two of everything. I tried Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta and actually thought, “hey this is nice”. The ability to upload to WLSpaces with a click is very nice. Now I want to be able to have this thing blast my photos to Flickr, Myspace, facebook, etc ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Organize once, post once to everywhere that you care about. No one does this well, not even Apple.
It is no surprise that Apple’s stars are rising in college circles as laptops become the dominant computing form factor. At any rate, I like Apple stuff and have a MacBook at home that serves its purpose as my wife’s primary computer very well. What limits Apple are old perceptions that stick around today. These include (but are not limited to):
- “Macs cost too much” – definitely not true. Macs cost about as much as PCs for the most part. This perception may be perpetuated by the fact that Macs have higher resale value and the fact that Macs don’t tend to have lower end configurations that PC makers carry to bring in the lower end of the computing spectrum.
- “Macs don’t have as much software” – This is true especially in the realm of gaming, but from what I’ve seen Macs have the benefit of Apple’s pretty strong (and getting better everyday) software division that pumps out pretty goods software.
- “Macs are quirky” – From my personal use of Macs, I tend to agree. It’s not that they are quirky, it’s just that they have slightly different keys than a PC. I hope someday that there will be an IEEE or ISO standard for keyboard commands and we can do away with the one/two button mouse divide and the command/control and option/alt key madness that inflicts computing today.
Anyway, I see Apple becoming more dominant in the computing world because their products are usually quite well designed and unless that aspect of their corporate image falters, they’ll be sticking around.
Linux is a tinkerer’s dream. There are a zillion ways to just about a zillion things. There are seemingly a zillion off shoots of the main Linux distributions which in lies the problem of mainstream acceptance. There is a perceived complexity to the Linux computing experience. The focus of the Linux community is to get things just the way you want them to be. While I appreciate this aspect of Linux, I think Ubuntu got my attention because it comes preconfigured almost exactly right for most mainstream users needs. Interestingly enough, this sort of prepackaged approach seems to be what Linux users don’t like about Ubuntu. While I enjoyed Bruce Byfield’s article immensely, it started me off on thinking about why Ubuntu, or even Linux in general is not more dominant. It really comes down to this need for the tinkerers to recognize that most of world are not like them. I know, I know, it is tragic that most of the computing world does not want to explore the limits of computing independently more like most Linux users, but it really is true. Grammie Jane just want to get email from her grandkids, watch CNN videos to find out what threat level we are at today, and forward spammy chain emails to her friends. Jake the marketing guy just wants to take photos of his kids and new Beemer to show off to his buddies on MySpace. Sally the real estate agent just wants something to sell those darned house that just don’t seem to be moving. The list goes on and on. While I would love an ideal world of tinkerers and builders, it just isn’t a true reflection of reality. I mean, I consider myself a pretty advanced user, but I’ve yet to contribute to open source software in a meaningful way (although that will change this coming year). I also consider myself a tinkerer, but appreciate nicely packaged things that “just work”. The world is made up of all kinds of people and I applaud the Ubuntu folks for recognizing this forging ahead on making something that “just works” out of the box.