Thursday, October 15, 2009

Minimal software required on a PC

WinZip or WinRAR

Some office application.

XML notepad

Adobe acrobat reader / Flash / Shockwave player

Visual Studio or a development environment

Silverlight / .Net

Google talk / Yahoo messenger

Windows live suite with blog writing tool

MSDN library

Downloaded accelerator

CD / DVD burning tool

VLC media player

Initial experience with Windows 7

Nice bits

Off course its faster, compared to Vista, but that’s old information. Here comes few things that I noticed over last 2-3 weeks on RTM bits.

  1. Installation is pretty fast.
  2. Preview of files in explorer windows is quite nice.
  3. Default screen layout is easy on eyes with the use of subdued colours.
  4. Easy transfer from XP to Windows 7 is very smooth.
  5. UAC is a lot less intrusive now.
  6. Boot up speed did not go south, which used to happen traditionally with new OSes.
  7. Search results are much more faster.
  8. New Taskbar takes time to get used to, but after a while one realizes how easy it makes life when lot of applications are opened.
  9. When system is logged off, except primary monitor, all other monitors goes to sleep mode which is nice thing. I used to change that every evening before leaving to avoid trouble when doing remote desktop from home.
  10. MsPaint can now be used to make decent maps pretty fast.
  11. Problem reports menu has many more options.
  12. New start menu options of attaching frequent items with applications itself makes things easier to do.
  13. Multiple monitors got instantly recognized and properly setup without any effort on my part.
  14. New default power saver mode will make more people realize the power of it. And just a small gesture does not take it out of sleep, which means accidental wakeup from sleep is not easy. 
  15. IE8 is starting much faster.
  16. Most of the applications are working without hitch even on 64 bit installation.
  17. Path string for Desktop folder is quite small now.
  18. I have not needed to increase the height of taskbar till now.
  19. Nice work in removing clutter from desktop including gadgets.
  20. In default setting, No need to mute speakers to avoid boot time and shutdown horrible noise.
  21. Default password settings is stronger now.

Not so nice

  1. I am not able to use Media keys in my Logitech internet pro keyboard.
  2. New taskbar can hide some activity on some app.
  3. Search result columns cannot be resized in explorer view.
  4. Under default settings, one can easily forget that GTalk and Yahoo messenger have been left running on the system, since these have been moved to the hidden tray.
  5. Default setting in Search options fails to search binary files. One needs to type full path.
  6. Default sleep settings turns off network activity also. I left something to download on DAP and went around for 30 minutes. When I got up, OS was in sleep mode, but DAP was also not doing anything. People will take time to get used to this.
  7. I am downloading 110 MB NVidia GT 9400 update third time in 3 days via WU optional update feature.
  8. Even before Oct 22, already 8-9 updates are installed on my machine.
  9. Event logs are already brimming with enough numbers of errors and warnings. Event viewer needs major rehaul it seems to make things more sane and intuitive.

For those still working on XP, once they get graphics card with minimum required capacity, experience of moving to windows 7 is going to be really great. Obviously ultimate will be the one giving real awesomeness.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DVD Writers and the trouble

After spending money on 3 DVD writers and 3 Nero OEM installations, few things are getting painfully clear to me now.

  • Keeping backup in DVDs is safe way, but it is really time-taking process.
  • Following the good practice of running with Non-Admin account is against the ethos of NERO developers.
  • DVD writers are most fickle pieces of HW in assembled PC it seems.

NERO has started monopolistic practice. Examples are

  • It does not allow copying of bootable disks from one disk to another any longer. There is easy workaround of saving content of first as NRG file and then write on another disk. That means one will be bound to NERO to get that NRG file written anywhere else.
  • With every new windows version, they come up with new version and immediately drop support for old NERO version.
  • Its is getting bloated like anything with music player etc getting added every time and updates ranging to 100-200 MB.

I keep on getting different other names like InfoRecorder, isoRecorder, PowerISO etc, but then who will evaluate all these.

Perhaps, having access to few rewritable DVDs will save me some money in long term when drive / Nero start giving quirks. And Nero 8 is sure to break in near future with some updates in windows 7. And Nero will not fix that forcing people like me to either buy new writer get help from Hyper-V configuration. Lets see, but another software monopoly is born for sure !!!

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Hardware upgrade due to availability of software

Got MSDN subscription. All OSes starting from MS-DOS to Windows Server 2008 R2 are available there. And lot many other MS applications.

Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 has virtualization technology. But, my AMD64 processor does not support that. I went to CTC near paradise circle and ended up buying following configuration

1> Intel core 2 duo processor E7500 in INR 5500.

2> DP45SG Intel Motherboard that supports DDR3 RAM, but no onboard VGA support. Cost 7000 in comparison to 3000 for DDR2 support motherboard with onboard VGA card. Right now, this motherboard is meant for extreme gamers and that’s why they gave Ghost Recon 2 game also free with this. But, I have never played games any seriously more than the solitaire genre :-)

3> 1 GB NVIDIA GeForce 9400 GT graphics card in 2500.

4> 2 GB Transcend DDR3 RAM in INR 2600. I cannot afford 4 GB with all this upgrade. But, this motherboard supports only speed up to 1066, hence difference from DDR2 (with maximum speed of 800) will not be so much it seems :-(

This motherboard does not have support for IDE in-built, hence I had to take a PCI to IDE card for supporting existing IDE HDD and IDE DVD writer. That card makes these devices look external to BIOS. Which means old OSes (Vista & XP) installed on the IDE drive are no longer coming in boot menu, nor IDE DVD writer will show up in BIOS. That means I had to add another SATA DVD writer (LG in 1100) to be able to install OS at any time on the other SATA HDD. Since Processor is of higher capacity and there is 1 GB graphics card also, I had to upgrade my SMPS from 400 Watt to 450 Watt. That may have been bad decision, but who knows.

Total bill 19625 + 325 (1.8% credit card charge). That’s impulsive shopping at its height ;-)

If I had went for Intel Motherboard with DDR2 support only, The cost would have been 12800 (Motherboard 3000 + DDR2 2 GB RAM 1800 + CoreDuo2 Processor 5500 + SATA DVD 1100 + 400 PCI to IDE card). Adding another 1800, I could have got 2 GB more RAM.

Sold my old Gigabyte motherboard, 2 GB DDR1 RAM, a bad IDE DVD writer, SMPS and AMD64 Athlon 3000+ processor in Rs 3100 to some other shop in first floor. After taking out everything, I only had 2 HDD and 1 DVD writer left with an old, but sturdy cabinet.

When I had first entered that shop and asked to upgrade my machine, first question that was popped was “what is the problem”. My response “no problem at all” and since then everyone in that shop would smile gently seeing my seeming foolishness in upgrading a perfectly running machine.

Now, I need to find full use of all this added power as well as lot of new software that got added in the system. Many of them that came free with motherboard may not get used ever also, but lets see how long this configuration is relevant. Earlier one lasted 3 years and I felt it was reaching limit. When would this configuration reach that stage? But, I may extend its lifetime by going for more RAM and CoreQuad processor in future. There is still ma lot of room left in the motherboard for further upgrades including more than half USB slots unused and only one PCI slot in use.

Surprisingly, this configuration is making much lesser sound compared to old AMD64 configuration. Perhaps, they were good when saying that AMD64 makes more noise.