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

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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?





Clueless Microsoft and Windows 7

9 01 2009

Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 … everybody’s been talking about Windows 7 ever since Vista was unveiled and now that we have a pure unadulterated fully functioning officially stamped version out, it’s NOT even available.

They say “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings!” and sing she did. Well this would be in reference to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making a big ballyhoo about the official beta release of Microsoft over at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas.

Most of the reviews on MSW7 are indeed positive but how can the masses get a taste of it if the frigging server‘s down?

“Thanks for your interest in the Windows 7 Beta. The volume has been phenomenal — we’re in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We’re sorry for the delay and we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience.”

The sensible thing for them to do is to host Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000) as a torrent lessening the impact on their servers. Eventually, Microsoft could just limit the bandwidth on their servers making the other users handle the majority of the load. Now we’re stuck guessing which one of the available torrents are the official build and not one of those malware infested ISO files. Maybe I should stop complaining because this was made free to the public but what’s a free product if the execution isn’t done right.

EDIT 2009-01-12: The servers aren’t shut down anymore and Win7 looks meh. Better than Vista … for now.





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. 😀





The Best OS for your old laptop? Pt 1 of 2

29 05 2008

Do you have a spare old computer lying around collecting dust?

OR

What do you do when you have an aged laptop or desktop and running Windows XP is a pain in the ass? A friend of mine wanted me to fix his sister’s old computer, a Dell Inspiron 2100 laptop running ……

Microsoft Windows XP SP2
Intel Pentium III 700Mhz
128MB RAM (1 slot, upgradeable to 256)
10GB HDD

A sticker on his diminutive laptop (now called a sub-notebook) carried the l’terrible Windows ME sticker in a corner galvanizing me to set forth on an adventure to seek out the best usable Operating System for that old POS. Since the end-user would require a familiar user-interface, my first bet was Windows XP. It was bad. Really bad and took a longer time to load and operate than expected.

Being the honorable ninja, I was began looking for “free” Operating Systems devoid of commercial value. So the next thing to XP, since Vista is definitely out of the equation, was TinyXP. You can google it up and download the ISO file via torrents for free. Install the ISO as I have detailed in this post and try setting it up on your computer. Remember that when you install it on a drive, you will have to format the drive so backup everything you have on DVDs or CDs or another hard drive.

So how’s TinyXP? It’s great for that laptop when I installed Rev08 and it’s the same as Windows XP for the regular user other than certain disabled features. Only took like 500MB so was pretty neat. The only problem was after installing all the different add-ons like Flash Player for YouTube and Office 2003 etc etc, the laptop became slow. There are options to remove printers and other features and even after combing out everything from the start-up and uninstalling McAfee Anti-Virus, it wasn’t as fun. The wallpaper and theme figures into the slowness of the operations of the computer as well. Oh and you can’t run updates to secure your machine on the internet.

After these problems with TinyXP, I said fuggit and formatted the drive with the much heralded Fluxbox variant of the already open-source and “free” Ubuntu known as Fluxbuntu. After formatting the drive to EXT3 and getting Flux on it, to my shock, it was a plain Linux screen where everything had to be done manually. Click on the terminal window to install applications (example: sudo apt-get install firefox) but to it’s credit, Fluxbuntu did have some nice looking preloaded themes to it.

To get an updated repository list of applications, you would have to open up the terminal window and type in sudo update-menus before you can do the sudo apt-get install [name of application]. It did not recognize my Western Digital external hard drive and had trouble loading my flash drives. Apparently you have to manually mount them to the computer through commands on the terminal. Pfffft. Gave it another 24 hours and blah. Gave up on it. It’s light-weight and great for an old workstation but simply not user-friendly enough for the average person like my friend’s sister.

And so our ninja trod on towards his next project, KDE. I remembered having problems installing Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon – Gnome) and knew that similar issues could arise during installation of Kubuntu (KDE Ubuntu) so ran the lazy man’s way of installing Kubuntu over Flux.

[To Be Continued…]





Top 3 Free Virtual Email Hosting

7 11 2007

Gizmodo just announced that Microsoft is done testing with LIVE meaning you can go and setup a free new LIVE Hotmail account with …@live.com as a suffix to your email id. I just registered ninjatales-at-live-dot-com so you should go get yours too with something that resembles your name more closely than brutishbeast@hotmail.com (just an example) or some weird zany nick that you might’ve had instead.

Another thing to consider is that Yahoo! last week officially upgraded all Yahoo! Mail accounts to “unlimited” storage which trumps all other free virtual email hosts.

Yahoo! Mail – Unlimited
MSN Live Mail – 5GB
Google Mail – 4.5GB
MSN Hotmail (unupgraded version) – 1GB

If you haven’t upgraded your Hotmail, you’ll still only have 1GB but fear not, it’ll soon be ported over regardless. So if you prefer the old Hotmail look like me, then you’re better off creating your own new @LIVE.com Hotmail address cuz they’ll look the same and both accounts will have 5GB storage.

Google’s email “beta” service also known as Gmail is now languishing in the bottom (if you ignore the unupgraded Hotmail accounts) with only 4.5GB storage. But it’s the only one that allows you to chat with other Gmail users through your browser when you surf into your email. It should be on the left hand column and you are free to move the list of your friends to the top or below. Offline messages and very basic emoticons are supported.

But out of all them, I prefer Yahoo’s mail service. It’s spam filter isn’t the greatest but if you’re using the “Classic” mode like I do, then it loads the fastest and pretty much is a no-nonsense kinda email server. Very easy to use interface and not slow and laggy and memory intensive like Hotmail or Live.

So pick your poison. Yahoo! Mail gives you the most storage space but has a crappy spam filter and it’s hard to find a good username cuz it’s been out for so long. Gmail runs very fast and is reliable but has the least storage 4.5GB which is still a lot. MSN Live Hotmail lets you pick your own name but how long will that last. Also, Live/Hotmail is very slow and has a lot of dependent functions it needs to call from external locations making the whole loading process a pain in the back sometimes. Too many errors with Live/Hotmail but you get to pick your name unless you have a common name like “allah” or “steve_smith” etc.

EDIT 11/29/07: Gmail storage has been bumped to 5GB and is expected to increase again. The old Hotmail has been taken down and everybody has been switched over to the LIVE servers. This means YAHOO has the worst email service from the 3. 





Quick updates on the Eee PC

1 11 2007

Upon closer inspection as revealed on this one Chinese website:

– The length and width of the Asus Eee PC are 6.5 x 9 inches.

– The overall plastic case of the device has a rather cheap finish on it.

– The touch-pad left/right buttons are on a rocker arm. This puts undue stress on that seesaw point possibly making it susceptible to breakage. The cheapy chintzy plastic material on the rocker arm further strengthens my point about this being a weak spot.

– The packaging box looks like crap. Maybe in Asia, that’s good stuff but we’re used to seeing plain brown but sturdy looking packaging.

An Engadget’s Chinese website shows that upon installing Windows XP (which is a watered down version instead of the regular XP we have), only 500 MB remains free from the 4GB. So Linux is the way to go.

Wikipedia confirmed that the processor used in the Eee PC is indeed the same used in the R2H-BH059T-3 as mentioned in my previous post which would be the Intel 900MHz Celeron M 353 processor.

Finally, an old review of a prototype from Slash Gear.