Tag: Windows

What a Difference an OS Makes


Nerdy post upcoming – you’ve been warned.  But, it just might be worth the read for you anyway…

A good friend of mine had the power supply go on her ancient PC so it wouldn’t boot.  She needed some files from her hard drive and asked for my assistance.  No problem, I says, bring your CPU over.  That was actually step 1.  Step 2 as described below happens a day later.

Now, a little background here at dougpete labs.  I have a Sony VPCF1 with an i7 processor that came loaded with Windows 7 and that was my main operating system for about a week.  At the end of the week, I partitioned the hard drive and installed an instance of Ubuntu and the computer boots there by default and remains there for the most part.  Every now and again I’ll have the urge to program using Visual Basic or Visual F# and I’ll reboot into Windows for that.  I have an on again / off again relationship with Wine.

Back to the problem at hand.  I actually had a similar problem with an old PC of my own and had ordered a Sabrent USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapter from Tiger Connect.  With a wide variety of connectors, it’s just a matter of finding the one that works to connect the PC’s hard drive to the adapter that feeds into a USB 2.0 connection which attaches to the computer.  In my previous case, it had mounted the drive under Windows and I was able to get what I needed.

So, in this case, I figured that I would just replicate the procedure.

I rebooted the laptop to run Windows 7 and immediately was reminded of one of the reasons why it doesn’t stay running Windows for the most part.  The fan roars and you can feel the heat being ejected from the left of the computer.  Sigh.  I’ve tried upgrading the BIOS and I think I’ve read every FAQ about CPU heating / fan combinations on the web.  The best answer was a flippant “you’ve got an i7 processor.  It’s a workhorse and designed to run hot.”  I don’t know if that’s the ultimate answer but it was rationale enough for me.  I mount the hard drive and go to Computer and there the drive is sitting there as Drive Q:  Double click to open and I get the message that I don’t have enough permissions to do that.  Of course; it must be password protected.

I’m sitting here heating the room, listening to the fan, and staring at the error message.  I’m resigned to waiting for her to show up.

Then, I thought, what if I went back to Ubuntu?  I needed to check my email anyway and the fan is really annoying.

Within a minute, I’m looking at my friendly Gnome desktop.  Quietly too.  Hand over the heat vent reveals a little warm and the fan gently sending the heat out.  And, on the desktop is the now connected Windows hard drive.  A double click reveals the contents.  Hmmm.  Conscience kicks in so I leave the setup until she comes over and then we copy the desired files to a memory key and she’s a happy camper.  I’m a happy Ubuntu camper.  The computer is quietly doing its thing and saved the day.

There’s a lesson to be learned here though.  Getting to the hard drive was just a little bit too easy.  Lifehacker has a really good article for reading dealing with all of this.  It’s called “How to Break Into a Windows PC (and Prevent It from Happening to You)“.  It’s definitely a good read and offers some good suggestions.  If you’re concerned, make a point to read the article this morning.

 

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Still Relevant


Part of my regular Saturday routines involves maintenance to my computers.  On this machine, it’s the one day that I reliably boot into Windows.  That lets me grab any/all of the updates from Microsoft from the past week; run a defragging utility; I update my anti-virus; and I scan the computer.  Thankfully, all goes well and I move on.  Last week, instead of rebooting into Ubuntu, I put it to sleep in Windows 7.  Later on, I awoke the computer and gave a “oh no” as I watched the computer struggle to awake.  Just like a boot into Windows, the ol’ hard drive is going like crazy awaking everything that was either sleeping or hybernating.  It took quite a while and was a reminder why the computer spends most of its time in Ubuntu.  When I wake it from sleeping, it’s almost instant on.

I’m still not at the point where I would move it to Ubuntu fulltime and forget about Windows.  There is software on the Windows side that I paid for, there’s software that I’ve spent half a lifetime learning and mastering, I play around with C# there, and I just like to keep my hand in it when I get asked a question.

But life in Ubuntu has spoiled me.  I’ll confess that I do most everything on the web now so really I just need a good acting web browser.  Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox get workouts regularly.  I’m a fan of both products.

As it happens, I read an article recently “Never been convinced by Linux? Here is a challenge for you.

I shared it with Twitter which is my place to share interesting articles with others and a temporary holding place for me so that I can go back and read the article thoroughly when I have the time.

Later that day, I did in fact re-read the article.  It was one that had me nodding my head in agreement.  I recall when I first tried to work wtih Ubuntu – it was just a curiosity that took up some time in a summer.  However, the more I used it, the more I liked it.  I wished that I had taken the advice from this article sooner.  I think I would have become a regular Ubuntu user much sooner than I did.

I chuckled as I read some of the replies to the post.  Some talked about Vista and Windows XP doing just a fine job for them.  Again, I chuckled.  I wondered – why aren’t they talking Windows 7 or 8?

Then, this dummy confesses, I looked at the date on the article.  It was December 23, 2007.  I guess that Zite had just picked it up because of a recent revision or something.  I was just dumbfounded.

I think that the advice in the article is even more relevant today than it was in 2007.   Actually, it’s probably more relevant.  Ubuntu and Windows have certainly both become better products since then.  If you’re using the web for your work, browsers absolutely have become so much better.

Reading and experiencing the article is time well spent.  Reading the replies (170 pages of them) can take a while but there’s a world of education in the replies.  Of course, as one would expect, there’s your share of Windows-bashing or Linux-bashing but in between some very good reading.

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Learn Computer Security in a Week!


That’s the claim from Gust Mees who has devoted a great deal of effort putting together an online course for those desiring to know more about what they can do to keep their computer safe and their online browsing experiences happy.

On his blog, Gust has put together a week’s worth of activities that will take you to the secure side of computing.  Each day has a number of activities pointing you to some of the best of the web in terms of security.  If your computer is not sporting best of breed software, then you need to take a run through his activities.

Gust has selected great Windows and Macintosh software titles as part of is course.  Even if you’re using another product, it’s worth the time to check out the opposition; the more you read and understand about computer security, the better off you’ll be.

Gust is also a curator of related resources.  Check the top of his page for security stories in both English and French.  He’s always tucking away the best of what he reads.

If that’s not enough, check out his Scoopit! resources for collections dealing with security and education.  He curates nice collections there.  In fact, we’ve been known to share each others’ scoops at times!

You can follow Gust on Twitter at @knolinfos

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Microsoft Windows and me


On my drive home yesterday, I heard on the radio about this being the big weekend to preview Microsoft Windows 7.  One reviewer’s first impressions are available here.

While still focused on driving, my mind did start to wander about my history with Windows.  Like everyone these days, the household does have a computer or two hanging around.  Like everyone, we keep looking forward to the day when these things truly become appliances and just work.  But, that hasn’t happened yet and so I continue to look for the closest thing.

Due to the nature of my work, I need to know about these things so that I can understand and assist folks who are working at home.  So, it should come as no surprise that I have Windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu installed and working at various places. But, today, it’s all about Windows.

I foresaw the end of civilization when Windows, version 1, was released.  After all, real computer users worked with the command line.  We knew about switches and pathnames and attrib and the lot.  We actually knew where stuff was stored and how it worked.  We knew the difference between batch files, .com files, and .exe files.  A year earlier, I had attended the MACUL conference and saw a demonstration of the Lisa computer.  Pfffft.  It’s just a scam to get people who didn’t know about computers to buy one. Well… So, over the years, I was proved wrong over and over.

Windows 3 – it was here that I became convinced that I was wrong and perhaps this mouse stuff would catch on.  Windows 3.1 allowed for some interesting graphical displays and working with computers did become interesting for the masses.  Lots of breakthroughs.  There was even the concept of networking with Windows for Workgroups!

Windows 95 – just a glorified version of Windows 3, they say.  Well, there’s got to be more to it than that.  After all, revisions going from 3 to 95 had to mean something.  It really did.  Windows 95 was actually an OS in itself and you didn’t have to buy MS-DOS to sit under it.

Windows 98 – my biggest and fondest memory of Windows 98 was that it became mobile with USB support.  I still remember paying $128 for a 32MB memory key.  It was cutting edge and the concept of carrying your data from one computer to the next was really exciting.

Windows ME – somewhere around this time, we bought a new home computer and it came with this OS.  Had to install it, of course.  You couldn’t foresake the latest and greatest.  For my money, this was much to do about nothing.  Maybe I just didn’t install it properly.

Windows NT – How could you make life more confusing and complicated?  Why not take all of these machines and network them?  Delving into this field with NT and Windows 2000 added to the learning curve.  Properly configured, you could do some amazing things in terms of performance and also managing decent sized networks.

Windows XP – This still is the standard for our workstations in our schools.  It’s a real workhorse and most developers have written or re-written their code so that it runs under Windows XP without hassles.  For the first time, when you buy software, you really don’t have to ask the obligatory, “Will it run under…?” But, Windows XP is now eight years old!

Computer use has become so much more sophisticated and the hardware and software needs to take advantage of these changes and so we have Windows Vista.  Is this eye candy or what?  I seem to be one of the few people that actualy like and use it regularly.  Of course, the “experts” won’t run it until at least service pack 3, if at all, and are very vocal about it.  Heck, they even recommend taking a perfectly tuned new computer and putting Windows XP on it. They may not get a chance with Windows 7 on the horizon.  It looks interesting and I’ll be waiting to hear the reviews about it this weekend during the official preview launch.

Will I be switching to Windows 7?  Quite probably to stay on top of the latest and most current. So, it’s been an interesting haul.  With all that I’ve messed with, there were even more versions of Windows that I missed.  See the complete timeline here.

Along this timeline, the concept of numbers sure has gone astray.  By my count, we’re beyond version 7 of this GUI interface, aren’t we? Oh, man….  just a quick review of the above reminds me that I forgot about Windows BOB and CE.

Thank goodness I am a lifelong learner!

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The Sky is Falling?


Apparently so and people are concerned if you’re using Microsoft Window XP.

Infoworld has an online petition encouraging folks to sign asking Microsoft to consider its decision to end retail sales of Window XP on June 30.

http://weblog.infoworld.com/save-xp/

A report indicates that there are over 75000 people who have signed this petition.

http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=818709

Citing the high cost of making the switch, information technology professionals are at the lead of this initiative. I’ve had a few discussions with professionals who don’t want to consider anything Microsoft until at least Service Pack 1 comes out. The reasons are laughable and I think result from the lack of initiative to try it out and see what’s up.

It’s true that there will be memory upgrade costs and then the cost of upgrading the operating system. Time stands still for no one in this day and age. Looking around the computing environment, I don’t see any “Leopard Petitions (New 10.5)”, “Ubuntu Petitions (New 7.10)”, “KDE Petitions (New 4.0)” or any other product that upgrades itself for security and performance reasons. Why Windows XP then? I seem to recall that some of the folks that I talked to were dragged grudingly away from Windows 98 which wasn’t liked because it was just a fix for Windows 95 which was just a way to slow down DOS.

Instead of putting energy into maintaining the status quo, would the efforts not be better served testing and making the product better and planning for adoption? After all, how long has Vista been out and there are still folks who haven’t tried it? Microsoft is a big corporation, but even big corporations have to make sustainability decisions. You don’t see Ford Motor Company with an Edsel Division.

Can we afford to allow one platform to plateau while all others progress? I see new Mac vs. PC commercials already!

It reminds me of the old adage that “Life was Better Before Sliced Bread”.

Or, keeping with the Ford Motor Company theme, Henry Ford was reportedly quoted as saying “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

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