Microsoft has officially announced the availability of Windows 7 Release Candidate. It’s been said that this release will only be available to MSDN and TechNet users for now while the general public will be able to get their hands on it on May 5th.
The earlier beta versions of Windows 7 had quiet a few bugs but it seems like Microsoft has already taken care of them. Windows 7 RC will expire on March 1,2010 and if you continue to use it after the expiration date your system will reboot after every 2 hours.
Rumors has it that the final version of Windows 7 will be coming out in October 2009. On the other hand Asus has also confirmed that they will be shipping their all in one Z5600 PC preloaded with Windows 7 in October 2009. Asus Z5600 touch screen PC features a 24 inch LCD screen and comes with a built-in TV tuner card, Blu-ray recorder, 2TB hard drive and is specifically made for Windows 7.
Even though Microsoft has not mentioned anything about the official release date of Windows 7 but the Release Candidate will most probably be available for download on May 5th. The new release comes in 64 bit and 32 bit versions.
We’ve all gone through times when we needed to make a quick buck. Here is a great way to earn some extra cash by fishing out junked operating system product keys.
Many computers today come preinstalled with an operating system and have the product key label stuck on the case somewhere. With the way our society generally acts, when a computer slows down and becomes too much trouble you just throw it out and get a new one. I’ve seen piles of computers in local junk yards, scrap yards, and on the sidewalk during garbage collection day. The computers get junked and the product keys go to waste.
Right now a legitimate copy of Windows XP 32 bit still costs $90 USD. You can find a good key on just about any junked computer you come across. You might even find Vista keys if you get lucky (I got 3 home keys in stock at the moment).
Here’s how you can make some cash with these babies:
1: Find yourself a product key on a junked computer (not a computer that is still in use!). You will find the product key on the outside of the case in most situations. Look for the key on the bottom, back, or sides of the computer. After writing down the product key (and noting exactly what OS and edition it goes with), scrape the label off the junked computer with a screw driver or a knife.
2: Make sure nobody can use it again. If you want to sell the key, it needs to be legit and not in use by anyone else. Open up the computer, find the hard drive (the hard drive looks like a metal book sized object, it will be labeled as HDD near the CD drives), and take it. You will have to destroy the hard drive or sell it with the product key. This ensures that someone else won’t stumble upon the hard drive and use the product key that you are going to sell.
3: Now there are a few things you can do with your new product key. Some of them require you get the OEM (system builder) discs for Windows. If you don’t have one you can either buy one (and use it over and over again for each new product key you find) or you can borrow a CD from someone you know that built their computer with the same edition of the key you have. You may even find someone that is just looking for a key and doesn’t need an install disc.
The problem with pirating and trying to sell it is if you get caught with the disc, you are screwed. If you have a legitimate windows disc the customer will trust you and retards that want to rape you sideways can’t say anything about it because you are using all legitimate software and keys.
A lot of the punks in the IT departments of American colleges build computers for the experience (or to just shlick their e-penis) and you can sell it to them for $20-$40 cheaper than what they could get for it online. There are also the idiots that just want a completely fresh install of windows or want to go back to XP (easy money). I’ve made hundreds selling these keys on the side at $60 a piece in just a couple of months. You will find your own market; there are plenty of people looking for a clean and legitimate OS product keys. If I went out looking for these things every trash day I would be made of cash by now…and probably be labeled as a hobo and arrested.
Just don’t do this every day.
A new option on some of Microsoft’s online troubleshooting guides offers to “just fix it,” but is it enough?
Over at Cnet they have an article up about Microsoft’s fairly new Fix It feature. Since around December, Microsoft has been adding a cute little Fix It button to some of their help guides, which promises to automate all the steps that Microsoft recommends you take in solving a particular problem, apparently by getting a little Playmobile figurine to hit your computer with a wrench.
Only a small portion of Microsoft’s database of thousands of troubleshooting guides have Fix It buttons so far, but the list is constantly expanding. Some examples of guides with Fix It buttons include help for slow internet performance, problems with sleep and hibernation after using Disk Cleanup, and dealing with a active desktop restoration button that appears after installing Internet Explorer. According to a podcast by Ina Fried of Cnet, many of the fixes are related to repairing registry keys that have been manipulated by malware.
It’s a unique approach to troubleshooting that looks like it may take some of the frustration out of the process, but like many of Microsoft’s would-be solutions it seems to miss the point.
Microsoft has long had a reputation of releasing buggy, unstable software, and with the release of Windows Vista that reputation wasn’t exactly changed. Vista, to put it simply, was a mess, which made very few significant improvements over earlier versions of Windows and seemed to bring a host of new problems. It is probably safe to say that very few people were enamored with Vista, to put it lightly.
So Microsoft’s new Fix It feature comes as a sort of backhanded favour: it promises to make things easier for anyone using Windows, but it wouldn’t even be necessary if Microsoft had just gotten things right in the first place.
The Fix It button seems representative of Microsoft’s overall approach to software design, which has always been narrow and shortsighted; rather than focusing on fundamental problems with their products, and trying to design a piece of software that avoids most of those problems altogether, Microsoft seems to come at each new error or crash piecemeal, fixing the symptoms of each and leaving the greater issue of overall stability and usability unaddressed.
The problem is that making a bunch of tiny fixes to specific bugs and flaws doesn’t address the underlying problem: that Windows has always been buggy, unstable, and full of security holes. It seems that a much more reasonable approach would be to simply make an operating system that works the way it is supposed to, instead of an OS that hogs resources and leaves users vulnerable to all sorts of bugs and exploits.
For example, fixes that repair registry keys damaged or modified by malware are all well and good, but more important is making a registry system that isn’t so easily attacked by malicious software. Developing Windows in such a way that the registry is significantly less vulnerable seems like an absolutely necessary step in creating an OS that is usable, yet Microsoft has been very slow in actually addressing the issue.
This isn’t to say that the Fix It button is a bad idea, of course. If I had the choice between manually trying to fix something and having it automated, I will obviously choose the automated process. But, if I had the choice between automating the fixing process and simply not having the problem in the first place, I’d obviously choose to not have the problem at all. I don’t want to work for my operating system, I want it to just work.
Of course, no piece of software is ever free of bugs, and even the best designed operating systems are going to have flaws. In this regard it is always good to make the solution to any problem that might occur as simple as possible. Microsoft does deserve some credit in this regard. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s outrageous to ask of Microsoft that there simply be less problems with their products in the first place, rather than leaving the consumer to seek out a solution on their own, whether it be through a manual or automated process.
Some might argue that it is simply too much to ask of Microsoft that such problems never occur, but such a complacent attitude will never remedy the problem. Microsoft is a very large and powerful company with the lion’s share of the market in their grasp, which means their products are going to be the focus of most malware. But this also means that Microsoft has an obligation to work that much harder at making their software and operating systems work properly, so that the consumers who pay good money for Microsoft products get what they pay for.
Overall, Microsoft’s Fix It button is a good idea, but it is not the good idea; Microsoft’s main focus should be on making their operating systems have less risk of problems in the first place. Hopefully with the release of Windows 7 we will see a step in this direction, but if things continue to go the way they have in the past we might just end up seeing more quick fixes.
Google has released pre-beta version 2.0 of their Chrome web browser.
There are numerous little bug fixes and some new and spiffy CSS features. Chrome also has new window frames for XP/Vista users that support the Windows cascading and tiling capabilities.
Profiles can place Chrome settings in different categories for different users. You can have one profile you use on your laptop when you are at work and a completely different profile setting for when you’re at home to help ensure you don’t stumble across some naughty pictures while on the job.
You can update to the new version at the Chrome website and test it out. If you don’t like the new version Google gives you the option to downgrade to a previous version of the browser. This update has made some much needed improvements to the feature-lacking browser. Chrome is catching up to its competitors at a rapid pace, but still doesn’t have all the features and options you can find on the already established browsers on the web.
You can get a full list of the major changes at the Chromium Developer Documentation page.
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day 5, A torrid affair with Windows virtualization!
On day four I let Linux think it was in control by cleverly allowing it to verbally abuse and gas pedal me for the entire day, firmly establishing my dominance over the foolish operating system. (“Stupid operating system! You think you’re getting the better of me by stomping on my crotch and calling me deeply hurtful names, but little do you know this is all part of my master plan!… Oh god the pain is unimaginably horrible.”)
Although the tactics I made use of last day led to my resounding and indisputable success, today I’d like to try executing some strategies that result in at least a little bit less excruciating groin-pain (a truly bold move in operating system configuration, I know.) So join me today as I try to sneak around Linux and cheat on it in its very own house, in my torrid affair with Windows virtualization!
Before I begin I must extinguish any doubt in my mind that this is anything but a ridiculously fantastic plan. As such, I must convince myself that emulating a Windows operating system in Linux, when I have a perfectly functional, loving, tender, beautiful, and committed Windows PC literally right next to me, isn’t an inherently ridiculous idea.
To prepare the process of wiping my guilt-ridden mind of these thoughts, in order that I may go through with this dirty, adulterous deed, I begin my Patented Psych-Up Method of Self-Deception(TM), which is a process that involves punching myself in the face repeatedly as hard as I can while sobbing uncontrollably.
And… success! I still can’t shake the feeling that emulating Windows in Linux is kind of like buying an AIBO electronic dog to replace Sparkles, my actual real dog that can already run Winamp just fine. Also, my face kind of hurts. But other than those two problems it seems my patented method has succeeded and my guilty thoughts have been purged from me. I am free to act in as much of an amoral manner as I please!
But pulling this off isn’t going to be easy; it was hard enough hiding my Linuxy indiscretions from my Windows PC, but now I have to hide the virtual affair I’m having with Windows from the very Linux that is hosting virtual Windows, while still hiding real Linux from real Windows. And on top of all that, Derryck got Sheila to make Rolanda break up with Bobby, and now Bobby and Derryck are going to settle it with a drag-race through the old abandoned reservoir! Drama!
So, the first step in my clandestine scheme is to get Wine set up. I chose Wine mainly because its site is more appealing looking than VMware’s, which has all the sleek design features and well-considered organization of an expired domain name, and also because I am an inveterate alcoholic (I don’t have a problem. I jush… I jush like virtualizing! I can schtop when… whenever I wanna… Wheresh the toilet?)
According to the site’s instructions I will have to download Wine, which apparently involves using an application downloader, called Software Sources, that is built in to Linux.
I’m glad Wine has brought my attention to the Software Sources application, because it helps to widen my understanding of how Ubuntu is set up: First there is the Add/Remove Applications program, which is designed to allow you to Add and Remove Applications.
Second, there is the Synaptic Package Manager, which allows you to Manage Packages (in a manner that is uniquely synaptic, apparently) or Applications as some might call them, by allowing you to Add and Remove them.
Finally there is Software Sources, which, if Wine’s installation instructions are any indication, provides Sources of Software, filling a glaring gap in Ubuntu Linux by allowing you to Add and Remove Applications.
With my mind expanded by a better understanding of the inner operations of Linux I continue with my covert operation. I follow the instructions closely, which take an interesting approach to instructional flow by telling me at the very end that I should first use Add/Remove Applications to install Wine before I go about installing Wine. I guess I should have seen that coming?
I now realize that the Wine installation guide has tricked me, and that Software Sources is just for installing the update-frameworks for applications. Too bad, because I like redundancy almost as much as I like redundancy.
Once I finish severely flogging myself with an old shoe and recover from the deep sense of self-loathing and disappointment that overcame me when I made the redundancy joke, I update Wine. It goes smoothly, and I get to loading up my first Windows program.
I decide on using Winamp, which is the only mp3 player that is so very Windows that it has an abridged version of “Windows” in its name. A word of warning to any programs that think that you can compete with Winamp in this regard: If you want to be a Windows program, but do not have “Win” in your name, then you had better stop fronting, sir, because Winamp has the real Windows rep.
I quietly slip an Isaac Hayes CD into the tray, light up some candles, and open up Winamp. To my surprise it loads perfectly, and begins to sing me some smooth R&B classics. I did it! I got away with it and Linux is none the wiser!
Emboldened by my deception of Linux I try to get a bit farther with Windows. It can play music, but can it get graphic? I decide to test my luck and load up Spelunky, my latest video games addiction. I download the program and run the .exe, and it teases me by giving me a glimpse of the intro screen. I feel a rush of adrenaline as I realize I’m getting away with my unethical plan again, but then disaster strikes. The game rats me out, and my whole screen turns black, leaving me unable to alt-tab out. And I didn’t even get a chance to try sticking my gaming controller into the USB slot!
I’ve been caught red-handed! I’m trapped in a black screen with a Windows application in the background wearing nothing but a loading screen, and when Linux finds out its going to kill me! Given my situation I do the only reasonable thing: I panic, run around in circles screaming and sobbing, hit the power button on my computer, then sit in the shower with my clothes on, trying to wash away the stink of my shame. Later, when Linux asks me what happened, I deny everything and cry myself to sleep on the couch.
My moral indiscretions were fun while they lasted, but like so many things they couldn’t last forever. I got away with running some programs behind Linux’s back, but I paid for my inconsiderate actions in so many ways.
Winamp, which I thought was the perfect crime, doesn’t always run perfectly and crashes at times; oh paradise, I thought I had found you! Also, many video-based Windows programs refuse to run as well, presumably because they’ve gotten wind of my reputation as a playboy-heartbreaker extraordinaire. Prudes…
In the end I learned my lesson: it’s everyone’s dream to be with two operating systems at once, but it’s always too good to be true. Eventually one of them will find out about your indiscretions and threaten to cut important parts of you off with a well-timed crash, and then you’ll get a virus from a Windows application and end up with more groin pain than the old battleaxe you’ve been stuck with could ever give you.
In the end I don’t really mind that Windows applications don’t run perfectly with Wine; I’ve never had a problem with using multiple operating systems, since each has its own strengths, so it seems kind of silly to try to make Linux into Windows. The temptation of virtual Windows was strong for a little while, but I’ve still got my dedicated Windows machine waiting for me in my room, willing to run just about any program I want. Plus if I left it, it would get half of my stuff. (Damn you prenuptials!)
And that concludes my fifth day! Stay tuned for my next day, when I test my copy of Linux on another computer! (Because I have Linux on an external harddrive!)
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day Three, Screwing around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Yesterday I finally scaled the mountain of Linux, and when I reached the peak I claimed it as The Republic of Me. Unfortunately I only had time to do some basic things like word processing and internetting, so today I’ll get a (very) little bit more in depth. So join me as I screw around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Being the rogue maverick loose-cannon that I am, my first order of business is to update my software. (No self-respecting rogue maverick loose-cannon would ever risk missing an important update! It would be downright irresponsible.)
This updating is exhilarating stuff! Riding on the high of clicking on my updater and seeing that it will be finished downloading roughly next millennium, I decide I’ll try to figure out Ubuntu’s keyboard shortcuts. Luckily Linux still runs perfectly smoothly with the updater running in the background, so I get to work.
The keyboard shortcuts menu is easy enough to find, and they have a little bit of a learning curve, but for the most part are very similar to the XP or Mac shortcuts. Before I know it I’m ctrl-alt-shifting that shameful update window over to the next desktop. See you in the distant future, update window, when I am long dead and apes or robots or ape-robot hybrids or something have taken over the planet!
Having tasted sweet, sweet Linux shortcut keys for the first time I begin searching for some more user-interface options, and quickly find that there is a visual effects tab in the appearance menu. As far as I can tell it allows you to visualize your desktops on a little cube with each face being a desktop. Sounds fancy!
Unfortunately I will get to experience no fanciness today, as I either need to update the drivers for my video card or my computer is simply too much of a piece of garbage to run the effects. (Don’t worry, it likes it when I call it a piece of garbage: it’s a term of endearment.) Either way I’m not quite willing to go through the trouble of mucking with drivers or anything right now; I like cubes as much as the next guy, but there’s work to be done!
Um, that is, just as soon as I log on to an instant messaging program to exchange very important information over the Internet with people I see face-to-face pretty much every day. I’m glad to see that Ubuntu has provided me with the ability to reduce my productivity by 1000 percent, as they’ve included Pidgin, a universal IM program. I’ve never heard of Pidgin before, but I’ve used other universal IM services before and they never quite did it for me.
Pidgin seems very straight-forward and simple, and looks like it does pretty much everything I want it to with minimal annoyances. It includes connection capability for every IM program I use, and some I never even knew existed.
It also didn’t require any weird configuration like other IM programs I’ve used. I’ll have to use it a bit longer to see if it holds up, but so far I am content with it, and happy to be free from all the ads and junk that come bundled in MSN. (No, I don’t want to watch Rihanna’s latest video, MSN. Thanks for asking though.)
After some rousing conversation the next order of business is to realize how much time I’ve wasted, panic, and begin to hyperventilate furiously. As soon as I wake up from my fainting spell it’s time to get back to work.
That is, as soon as I play a few games. First on the docket is something called Klotski, which I’m assuming is an Eastern-European word that means “free game that comes bundled with Linux.”
After a bit of playing I realize that all the unfamiliar games that come bundled with Ubuntu were actually designed by an alien race possessing of a completely foreign form of logic and reasoning.
I manage to figure out that the point of Klotski is to integrate the hyper-cube into the goal sector via some form of psionic manipulation, but I have yet to translate the mysterious goals of Robots, Tetravex, or Tali. And what the hell is this Sudoku stuff? Like a game about numbers or some junk is going to catch on.
After Robots rewarded me with a spine-tingling scream the umpteenth time I lost, I decided it was time to move on from the games. It is at this point that I realize that I really don’t use my computer for very much: give me a web-browser, a word-processor and a warm blanky and I’m ready to go.
But that means I’m also kind of running out of ideas for what to do with this OS; so far it seems to be working fine, but where’s the adventure?
With that I venture into the Add/Remove programs application to begin my quest for shiny new programs. Before I know it there is a veritable pantheon of programs laid out before me, waiting to be gotten.
The pleases me: I’m no stranger to looking for apps on the web, but it gets tiresome sometimes. Let’s face it, all that clicking, typing, and observing: way too much work. And it seems like it might be especially tiresome looking for Linux apps on the web, given its thinner distribution, so this simple feature is very welcome.
In my journeys I find 7zip, a compression app that I have absolutely never used to unzip copies of SNES Roms, DOSBox, a very solid DOS emulator I’ve used many times to play some of my old favourites, ZSNES, a program I’ve absolutely never used to play the aforementioned Roms that I’ve absolutely never played, and ScummVM, a fantastic emulator designed specifically to play some great old adventure games.
But what I’m most interested in is sound recording software. I find a few mulitrack programs, such as Audacity and Muse, both of which I’ve never heard of, which I’ll have to try later.
Overall I’m very impressed with Add/Remove programs feature. The comfort of knowing that a myriad of programs, which can sometimes be a chore to find, are available at my fingertips ready to be integrated into the OS is quite nice.
It is a very clever feature that other OS manufacturers ought to look into, although I can’t exactly see Microsoft picking it up any time soon. (“So why do we want to put this feature in again? Uh huh, so you’re saying something about it making it easier for people to get programs, but you’re also saying it won’t make us loads and loads of delicious, beautiful money? I’m really not following. You’re going to have to go over this whole thing again.”)
And that’s about it for today. I’m getting a bit deeper into Ubuntu, and the memories of our tumultuous relationship are starting to fade into the past.
So what’s next? I’ve had a few people recommend I try Wubi, another form of Linux that installs along with Windows, and I’m thinking about trying some virtualization software, to see if I can run a few Windows programs in Ubuntu. Any suggestions from readers about what sort of things I can do with Linux next are very welcome!
Stay tuned for my next day when I do something with Linux that is as of yet undetermined!
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day One, Research and Installation.
My impressions of the Linux operating system are coloured by memories of the first time my computer-whiz friend unveiled his sort-of-new copy of Redhat Linux to me. Check this out! he said. This OS doesn’t suck like everything Microsoft makes! It came in an over-sized jewel case with 4 CDs, handed down second-hand from another computer-whiz friend who recommended we try it.
Upon installing it we were greeted with an unceremonious command console that might as well have been written in the ancient tongue of the long-dead tribe of Gnitth Shhta Star-God worshippers. We had no idea what to do, and it was exciting. Linux had that combination of sparseness, functionality and seriousness that gave it the feel of being a real operating system, unlike that flighty Windows 95. In short, Linux seemed cool.
But that was my first and last encounter with Linux. In the ten or fifteen years since that first Linux install other operating systems have shown up, like XP and OSX, that have mostly pulled my attention away from Linux. Now my impression of Linux is bundled up with old memories of screwing around with the config.sys file on my DOS computer in order to allocate enough virtual memory to get Ultima running. In short, Linux to me has always been synonymous with “command console,” and although command consoles may work well, they definitely aren’t easy to use.
All these year later, now that those newer and simpler operating systems are available, I find myself wondering: why use Linux at all? Why go through all the trouble of installing an operating system that’s difficult to use, when almost everyone has a perfectly fine operating system already installed on their PC? I’ve never seen the reason to make the switch.
But I’ve also heard all the reports about how Linux is different nowadays. It’s easy to use! they say. It’s even easy to install, and it’s way more stable than Windows! they insist. It’s not like the old days; Linux has changed, man! Just give a try, all the cool and smart and handsome people are using it! Linux still has that indie cred that I experienced all those years ago that makes it seem just a little bit more elite than its competitors, and power-nerds everywhere seem to be cajoling me into trying it.
Lucky for them I have an incredibly weak will. So I’ve decided to give in to peer pressure, light me up some Linux, and trip my way through the alternative operating system carnival in the sky.
Step one is to research what Linux has to offer nowadays. I know absolutely nothing about it, other than the fact that it is associated with penguins and guys with crazy beards, and that I remember it having all the subtlety and ease of use of a sledgehammer to the patience-center of your brain. But my plan is that I shouldn’t really need to know much of anything about it; if all the reports are true, and Linux is no longer the battleaxe it used to be, I should be able to head out and find the most user-friendly version of Linux on the market, pop it in and get all Linuxed up.
So where to start? From what I remember there are at least two or three version of Linux, so I’ll need to narrow down my choices. Unfortunately, my google search for linux os that doesn’t suck doesn’t turn anything up, so I’ll have to turn to the Internet user’s best friend: Wikipedia. A quick Wiki search reveals that there is actually a few more than two or three Linux builds; in reality there is roughly 158,000 million types of Linux, each of them named after a different type of hat.
Ten-gallon Linux sounded a bit old-fashioned, and Beret Linux really looked too pretentious, so I made my choice to try the decidedly un-hat-like Ubuntu on for size.
At the Ubuntu site I found a cute logo that looks kind of like a red, yellow and orange gun barrel pointing at my eyes. Later on, while eating my lunch, I would realize that it was actually representative of three people holding hands, presumably to keep each other from running away to a Mac or XP operating system.
My goal is to do this as painlessly as possible, so I hurriedly look for a copy of the OS and blissfully ignore anything that looks like a guide or set of instructions. I find a download location, and it turns out that downloading things is pretty easy. (You click on the button that says download.) So that’s one point for Ubuntu; good job on making use of basic http protocol, Ubuntu!
The file downloads quite quickly given its size, and a little bit later I’m ready to go. The file is an .iso, so I burn it to a CD, pop it into my drive and reboot.
I’m greeted by a colourful and clear menu, which gives me a series of options for installing. One of them is to try Ubuntu without installing, which is a clever idea for the creators to include, but I decide not to opt for it; my plan is to install Linux as an alternative to Windows and use it consistently, so there’s no point in trying it just yet when I will presumably have it installed in its entirety soon.
So I opt for the full install option. Since I want to keep Windows intact, because it has all kinds of Windowsy things I need, I am going to install Ubuntu on an external hard drive, which I’ve already connected to my computer. Next I select the full install option, after which I am greeted with an earthy-looking background and am serenaded with a truly bitching drum solo. I figure this will probably take a while, so I leave the room to marinate a steak for supper (with garlic, onion and horseradish if you must know.)
As I return I realize I’m actually pretty excited to get this thing installed and try it out. Gleefully I hop into my room to find… it’s locked up. The mouse won’t respond and the screen is stuck in a desktop with a beige background.
So much for the simple install. With the latest development I abandon my bull-headed approach and decide to get some help. Luckily the support forums on Ubuntu’s site have a thread that looks like it addresses my problem. According to the forums it looks like I have to press F4 at the install menu and enter graphic safe-mode; either that or do something with an alternative install CD that I really don’t want to deal with.
I heed the advice about the safe-mode, the installer doesn’t lock up this time and I’m grooving to sick bongo beats once again. I follow the dialogue box, select what I think is my external hard-drive to install on, enter some more basic information, experience a moment of powerful apprehension and potent dread that I might have picked the wrong drive to install on and might end up screwing up my Windows drive, press back a whole bunch, then finally build up the guts to go through with it.
The install process takes about half an hour, during which time I cook up my well-marinated steak (it was delicious, thank you.) I restart my computer and I’m feeling that excitement and wonderment again that I felt all those years ago in those heady days when me and my buddy first experimented with alternative installs. Then my computer starts to boot and… it locks up.
Damn, I think, Something must have gone wrong with the install, which I did on my external hard-drive so that it would be completely separate from my Windows hard-drive so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.
Disappointed that I’ve run into another road-block and won’t get to use Linux just yet, I unplug my external hard-drive so I can boot into Windows and go to the support forums for more advice and… my computer locks up. It tells me that GRUB is loading, and to please wait, and also that Error 21, which is presumably the Linux-talk equivalent of two middle fingers and a crotch-thrust in my direction.
Now I’m super-screwed; the computer I use everyday has somehow gotten a whiff of the aromatic Linux that I was installing on my external hard-drive and is now throwing a hissy fit and not talking to me any more. I ask my roommate if I can use his computer, log on to the Ubuntu support forums once again, and post a thread: Subject: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Body: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.
Luckily the Ubuntu forum staff are able to interpret my well-considered communication and they inform me that I need to boot from a Windows XP install CD to repair the boot-sector of my XP drive.
Success! My computer is un-ruined. But I’ve had enough excitement for one day, and decide to call it. The forum staff explain to me that they can tell me how to set up Ubuntu on my external hard drive so that it works properly, so tomorrow I’ll take another swing at it.
To put it softly, installing Ubuntu was hell. I ran into more problems than I ever imagined I would, and for a moment I thought my computer was reduced to a pretty silicon and plastic paperweight. The simplicity I was looking for was not there, and I’m not exactly planning to recommend that my parents replace their Mac OS with Ubuntu any time soon, given that they would probably have given up when they couldn’t figure out what an .iso was.
Nonetheless, I’m willing to give Linux the benefit of the doubt; I imagine that the majority of users don’t encounter the sort of problems I have, and I’m willing to concede that my hardware is likely to blame for all the peculiar issues. And while it wasn’t an easy process, the Ubuntu forum staff were very helpful and I was able to solve all my problems fairly quickly. Thumbs up for the support!
So tune in tomorrow, when I put the install problems behind me and move on to testing Ubuntu for the first time!
The beta version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 7, has been leaked to the web.
The ISO file for Windows 7 is available on many Bittorrent sites, allowing anyone with an internet connection and the proper peer to peer software to download and install the almost fully-functional operating system.
This latest leak is build 7000, rather than the alpha version 6801 that was leaked earlier this year, and has 32 bit architecture. According to some reports the beta is very stable and usable. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet had this to say about his experience with the leaked OS:
I like Windows 7, a lot. Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into developing a core operating system that is free from the pointless frills of the likes of XP and Vista. The OS is solid and fast and based on what I’ve seen so far I’d have no problems in rolling out beta 1 and using it daily.
While Microsoft might not be happy that their latest OS has been released for free on the internet, the positive response to this leak may come as good news for the software giant. The resounding failure that was Vista has left many PC users with a sour taste in their mouths, further cementing many PC users’ opinion that Microsoft products are of inferior quality compared to Linux and Apple’s OSX.
Microsoft has tried to regain some of the public’s good will with a series of weird ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld, but what they really need to do is simply make a solid, usable product that doesn’t fight against the user. Vista and many of its predecessors, such as the all-around awful Windows ME, have tended to be bloated, unstable resource hogs with unnecessary, sometimes downright user-unfriendly features and woefully little focus on straightforward performance.
It seems like it should be an obvious strategy for Microsoft to adopt: make an operating system that just works and it will gain popularity. But the fact of the matter is that Microsoft has controlled an enormous share of the operating system market for almost as long as PCs have been used by the greater public, and the software Goliath has never needed to change its approach.
But if Windows 7 is in fact as solid as the early reports are indicating, it might be the case that Microsoft’s approach has finally taken a turn towards benefiting the user and not just Microsoft. And just in time too, as Microsoft’s share of the market has dropped below 90% for the first time in recent history while Apple’s increased a small amount.
(Author’s disclosure: I actually found those totally wacky Seinfeld, Bill Gates ads pretty funny.)
The classic gaming site Good Old Games has added two free games to their collection of downloadable oldies.
This week Good Old Games released Beneath a Steel Sky, the classic post-apocalyptic point-and-click adventure game, to their catalogue as a completely free download.
Beneath a Steel Sky puts the player in the shoes of the main character Foster as he makes his way through the dystopian Union City in a quest to save his tribe.
Lure of the Temptress, another classic adventure game, was also released for free by Good Old Games.
Besides these two free games, Good Old Games also offers a host of other vintage games available for a fee. Every game is completely DRM free, meaning you don’t have to hassle with copy protection, and is compatible with Windows XP and Vista, removing the need to mess around with DOS emulators and virtual memory and all those headaches.
Each game costs either $5.99 or $9.99, which is a small price to pay for such high-quality, hassle-free classic gaming.
Some other titles in Good Old Games’ catalogue include some personal favourites of mine, such as Simon the Sorcerer, the Jagged Alliance series of strategy games, and the original Fallout series of RPGs.
It’s always a pain navigating seedy abandonware sites trying to track down a copy of a game I loved as a kid but can’t play because my old floppies have become corrupt. And it’s always made worse when I find that they don’t work on my modern computer, or that they can’t be downloaded for legal reasons, but also aren’t available for purchase due to their age.
Good Old Games looks to remove all that hassle for a price that is well worth the admission. As a fan of old games it is nice to see a site like Good Old Games give classic video games the attention they deserve with a professional distribution system, comprehensive support and a slick website.
Good Old Games updates their catalogue every week, and you can click here to check it out.
Dell has tripled the surcharge it will charge users who wish to downgrade Vista PCs to Windows XP. Dell’s Inspiron 1525 notebooks and 530 desktops can be ordered with XP Professional preinstalled for an extra $150.
There is still a strong user base that prefers Microsoft XP to Vista, this is shown in the fact that the XP downgrade deadline has been pushed back a couple times now. Under Microsoft licensing, Vista can be downgraded only to XP Professional until July 31, 2009. Many are still requesting XP with their new PC purchases, but Microsoft’s downgrade fees are trying to force users into purchasing the unpopular Vista.
Though the Microsoft brand is linked with PCs in the minds of many consumers, that does not necessarily mean they will be herded like sheep into purchasing Vista. The demand for XP is still high, even if starting to slack a little lately. When Microsoft tries to penalize customers with fees instead of improving their current OS, there is going to be backlash. This may turn out to be the jumping point for some who considered buying a Mac, or it may lead some users to pirating their choice OS instead of paying extravagant fees, especially with the recent economic slump where people are trying to save every penny they can.
The stigma has been set, many people do not trust Vista and most of them don’t even know why. Regardless of the cause for the Vista hate, Microsoft is not fixing the problem by forcing users to purchase the OS. We’ll only have to wait a few days before the Apple ads roll out and start smack talking Microsoft about this latest feat.
Windows 7, the next OS in line from Microsoft, is the company’s hope of eliminating the stigma. Industry analyst Rob Enderle says, “Windows 7 is designed to fix this problem [the Vista stigma], but it will need stronger demand generation marketing than Microsoft has yet proven it can provide. Windows 7 is estimated to ship in 2010, but may come sooner if Vista acceptance does not improve.
My personal experience with Vista has been iffy. I tried to keep the prejudice out of my mind while using the OS, but I still found myself disliking certain elements from the very start. I use my girlfriend’s HP laptop with Vista often enough, and it is constantly riddled with error messages (many of which don’t make any sense). Much of the OS is clunky, but there are a few redeeming qualities.
I myself am a mac user, but I have owned nothing but PCs until a little less than a year ago. I am running Leopard but I also have a second partition on my computer, this is where I have XP installed. I will not be putting Vista on my computer anytime soon. XP has its own share of problems, but I encounter far more on a regular basis with Vista than I do with XP. Everything I still need to use on my Windows partition still supports XP and I don’t think that will change for a long time.
What do you think? Is Vista a needed or wanted upgrade? What are your experiences with XP and Vista?