Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





Anyone Else Having Problems Installing Windows 7 on a Virtual Machine?

17 01 2009

I was able to get Microsoft’s upcoming baby, the beta for Windows 7 (build 7000) installed and running smoothly on a 3GHz P4 Dell Inspiron notebook running on 1GB RAM with no problems. Well I guess the only issue I faced was that it won’t let me create another partition so I could get Ubuntu 8.10 installed on a EXT3 disk format. But that aside, worked great.

Then I took the task of porting Windows 7 on my Apple Macbook via virtual machine meaning it would run within Mac OS X. Found a free tool Virtual Box (instead of the $80 Parallels or similarly priced industry leading VM Ware) to create a fake partition on my drive and emulate a system akin to a new hard drive so that Windows could be installed and executed on it.

The installation process was fairly quick and painless. Oh and I had it set it to Windows Server 2008 as there obviously didn’t have Windows 7 on the list and since Server 2008 was the latest one, it was my choice. By default, most new installs of operating systems default to a 4:3 screen ratio depending on your video/graphics card. Mine was on 1024×768 but when I went to switch it to 1280×800, that option wasn’t made available. Infact, there was nothing else other than the tiny 1024×768. My video card was listed as a generic VGA card and the mouse movements weren’t smooth.

I then tried to get onto the internet but my wireless card wasn’t recognized which was fine by me because I have an Ethernet cable (CAT5) to link up to my router and the VBox software was telling me that my LAN (local area network – cable) card was recognized. Too bad. It’s not working now for some reason on VBox. That meant I also couldn’t download and install the “Guest Additions” for Windows 7.

So now I’m stuck with 2 options:

1. Try and find a way to download the “Guest Additions” manually from the Mac OS X interface and then conjure up magic to install it.

2. Remove Windows 7 and reinstall it under the guise of Windows Vista since 7 is essentially built up on the much loathed Vista platform.

You could say I didn’t get the best first hand experience of a virtual machine on the Mac OS X platform but that’s just part of life.

 

When I load up Windows 7 beta on VirtualBox by default, it is set to “Windowed” mode (below).

 

I can scroll up or down but it gets annoying (below).

 

Or I could go into “Full Screen” mode but that’s annoying too with the black bars surrounding the main Windows 7 gui (pronounced: gooey … stands for “graphical user interface”) interface.

… any suggestions?





Free iPod through your bank

15 11 2008

Free iPod deal. Sometime last week, I received a letter from my bank Wells Fargo in the mail. Seemed like the regular “SIGN UP FOR A FREE CAMERA” thing they sometimes send out. Only this time, it said a free Apple iPod Shuffle. Nothing extraordinary but could be worth picking up since it’s FREE. Didn’t think much about it until a buddy at work had one just like that, only his was through Bank of America. He found the iPod in the middle row on the scratch card.

Found the iPod in the middle row on my scratch-off card also. You get 30 days to use the service (AutoVantage – similar to AAA Roadside Service) for free and you want to cancel before then, unless you’re up for shelling out $16/mo thereafter. The Shuffle will be mailed out 3-5 weeks after processing the application. Oh and remember to include the scratch-off card and the sheet holding your signature in the prepaid envelope before mailing em out. Keeping my fingers crossed.

EDIT (12/26/2008): This is so not worth the hassle. You send in a request to sign-up along with a free iPod card. Then you wait for 2 weeks and they mail you a membership confirmation packet complete with your ID card and some coupons and booklets. Then you have to mail out another free iPod card to confirm included in the packet you received from them. This is estimated to take 6-8 weeks to process and the whole time, you are expected to be a member of AutoVantage. Also be advised that the iPods are subject to availability. To top it off, it’s just a cheapo iPod Shuffle 1GB.





Battle of new Operating Systems – Snow Leopard v Windows 7

12 11 2008

It’s no big secret that Apple’s latest Mac OS X Snow Leopard (OS 10.6) will be available for purchase early next year while rumors point out that the new Microsoft OS (aptly named Windows 7) should be out late that same year to replace the Titanic-esque Windows Vista operating system.

So as the armies of darkness gather up their zombie ponies to do battle with one another, it’s time we take a pre-war analysis before plunging head-first into the chaos to get a glimpse of what’s to come.

Hilarity brought to you by The Onion. 😀





1 month and lovin the MacBook until now…

15 10 2008

As anticipated, on October 14th, Apple renewed their tri-pronged attack in the notebook market – a more powerful MacBook Air, a completely redesigned MacBook (the bread and butter of Apple computers), and the gigantor sized multimedia heavy MacBook Pro. By the way, did you know that new Apple products are always announced on Tuesdays? Did they pick the 2nd day of the work week simply because they got too lazy to prepare over the weekend and instead laid to waste a perfectly good “Moon-Day” for prep work? Either ways, one thing is for certain, the new MacBook kicks ass. Or do they?

Physically there are differences but the dimensions are very similar to my MacBook. 1.08 x 12.78 x 8.92 inches as opposed to the new sizes – 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 inches. Even the keyboard is identical aside from black color (and backlit feature for the $1,599 model). 4 main physical differences between the new MacBook and mine are:

  1. Firewire Port: It’s GONE! Mac fanboys are screaming “BLASPHEMY!” after Apple’s beloved IEEE 1394 port is now MIA from the MB line. But fear not MacNerds (or aspiring MacNerds) because the now elusive 1394 port exists on the more expensive MBP (MacBook Pro) if you can’t live without it. If you have truely set yourself in a loving monogamous relationship with Apple wares, you’ll find he money to upgrade to the MBP.
  2. Screen: Black bezel around the screen with gloss glass finish to the entire lid. I hate gloss finish on screens but it appears to be implemented well on the new ‘Books.
  3. Keyboard: It’s the same only black in color and if you want the keyboard lighting feature, it’s available on the $1,599 model.
  4. Material: The neat aluminum look to fit in with the rest of Apple’s computer line. I have to say however that this makes the entire Apple product line seem very … boring in a weird way. Previously the black and white MacBook models injected some life into their notebooks.

Additionally, you could add that the battery life bar is on the left-side of the notebook instead of the bottom but that’s nitpicking.

So in essence, the new MacBook IS a “mini” MacBook Pro. It packs a powerful punch with a dedicated GPU from NVIDIA’s 9400M line (the graphics card uses shared DDR3 RAM unlike the DDR2 stuff on my “white” MacBook) and it looks just like the new MBP, only better portability. I like it but the price hike and the lack of customization can be a factor – you only have 2 choices:

  1. $1,299 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.0GHz and 160GB HDD
  2. $1,599 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz and 250GB HDD w/ backlit keyboard

On the plus side, the weight has been reduced by 1 pound and both options use more efficient LED lighting for the screens. Also, the touchpad/trackpad no longer has the button at the end and supports 4-finger multi-touch (which is customizable) like the MBA (MacBook Air) and the MBP. It is made of glass and should be flashy enough to cause some to upgrade.

Finally, here’s a picture of my (now previous generation) MacBook. In my opinion, it can hold it’s own and has a very cleancut image without appearing to do a “me-too” look like the rest of the Apple line.

… I also thought I should share a picture of the new iPod Touch (2nd generation) placed alongside my workhorse communications device, Nokia E61. The one to the left is a protector screen sticker thing pasted on top of the iPod in it’s plastic glass case. Boy have I jumped over to the dark side.

If you’re pissed off about not getting Firewire support for the MacBooks, look at the MacBook Pro line. The 15″ is currently on sale and the 17-18″ should be joining soon next month.

My verdict: Wait until the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s out (sometime early next year sayz the rumors), then purchase the MacBook without having to pay $$$ for the upgrade. This should also allow ample time for Apple to smooth out the kinks on the new system and hopefully lower prices or even better hardware.





Macbook + Free iPod Touch v New Macbook (the real deal)

28 08 2008

Alright. This is the actual post about the Macbook. So Apple is having their annual “Back to School” special which ties anyone with a school email address to purchase Macbooks at a discount and receive a free iPod. The free iPod deal also encompasses the flashy iPod Touch (only the $299 8GB version) and is done through a worry free efficient rebate system from Apple.

This is also about the time for me to upgrade my laptop from an ungainly old P4 2.7GHz Windows system to a Core 2 Duo MacBook running the latest Mac OS X Leopard which would make sense because I need a new MP3 player, namely the fancy iPod Touch. After going to the Mac store with my old college email address (which still works 🙂 ) and configuring a nice setup for $1700, I realized something.

TO MAC OR NOT TO MAC!

The deal has it’s cons. It’s only valid till September 15th and there’s rumors that there’s going to be a completely redesigned MacBook this time around. There are other stories circulating the interwebs about an all-aluminum metal enclosure instead of the cheap white plastic (or black) highly popular MacBook. It’s also going to feature a multi-touch touchpad similar to the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. That and the iPod Touch will be redesigned and that all these changes are to be set in SEPTEMBER. It’s the 28th today and in a month, my new MacBook and iTouch will look outdated.

The downside to waiting for a new MacBook (if it comes true) is that I’m going to miss out on a free iPod deal and what if Apple jacks up the price? That and the wireless components on a metal encasing will suffer in terms of performance just like the MacBook Pro. After consulting with some Mac-philes today, I’ve decided to embrace the old saying “patience is virtue” and keeping my fingers crossed.

PS: The weirdest thing is the day I started looking for a MacBook and noticed the free iPod deal, it was posted on the popular consumer-advocacy website Consumerist.com.





Windows Search = Death Toll for XP

26 10 2007

Many of us have the Microsoft Windows XP updates set to “Automatic” which also happens to be the default setting meaning if you haven’t bothered with it, your computer gets updated by Microsoft, when they feel like it. And as we all know from some of my previous posts that I am not the greatest fan of MS’s attempt to slow down your computer with the myriad updates that Mr Gates’ company would like you to stuff down on our aging computers.

The last update contained Windows Search and Index applications. What this is, is it’s basically like Google Desktop Search. It resides in the background of your computer’s memory and hogs it down. The upside to that is it allows you to look up anything you’ve typed or written. So in other words, a more powerful version of the lame Windows Search thing you click on after clicking the START button. Search and Index comes prepackaged with the slow-selling Windows Vista.

You can see how much RAM they use by hitting CTRL+ALT+DEL, then clicking on Task Manager, and then the Processes tab. searchindex.exe, searchfilterhost.exe, searchprotocolhost.exe, and mscorsvw.exe should be hiding among the processes listed. These are the suspects where mscorsvw does something a bit different and doesn’t have much to do with the Indexing portion.

There’s more than 1 way to turn it off. The method I chose was to go to…

Start > Run and then type in services.msc and hit enter.
– Go all the way down to Windows Search under the Name column after clicking on the title to arrange it in an alphabetical order.
– Double-click Windows Search and click on the “automatic” drop down tool bar and set it to “disabled”.
– Then hit Apply and watch your computer pick up in speed.
– Then delete it from the Startup. Click on Start > All Programs > Startup and then right-click on Windows Search and select the delete option.
– Don’t forget to reboot your computer after disabling.

================================

Another way you can turn it off is by clicking on…

Start > Search > Change Preferences > With Indexing Service
– Make sure the [NO, Do Not Enable Indexing Service] option is selected.

or,

Change Indexing Service Settings
– [Indexing Services] Window
– Click on Action > Stop

Sorry to announce this but attempting to disable the Search/Index via Windows Search isn’t very effective. Just try my steps from the “services” menu and REMEMBER to delete the Windows Search icon from the Start-Up menu before you reboot your system.

So what do I think of all this? This is madness. This is Sparta. I feel like I’m in fuckin Sparta. Surrounded by Bill Gates and his evil henchman Steve Balmer’s asswipes looking for an easy kill. They want to bog down our Windows XP operating systems with all their unnecessary system files/processes so that in the end, we give up on XP and move over to Vista.

Wait. Not so easy you evil Redmond clowns. Some of us are actually going to make the switch over to Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) and Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) so I wish you all luck. Microsoft continues to alienate their true fans by trying to Mackify their UI (user interface) but comes out with a shitty product and making themselves look bad. All those updates this year have been extremely aggressive. I can’t see why Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft hate their users so much. I’ve been a Windows fan for a long time but times are changing. Especially this year.

EDIT: John Wood has a quick detailed guide to disabling mscorsvw.exe on your computer.