A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘windows’

Taking the plunge with the penguin

Posted by Alan on October 29, 2010

A little while ago I finally took the plunge and purged Windows XP from my netbook. As an IT nerd, I have had experience with Linux in the past, but never got past the tinkering for fun stage.  This time, I’m actually using it for real. So, what do you get? First up a pretty normal looking desktop:


Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu Desktop


Some stuff is in new places (such as close/minimise/etc – all in the Apple Mac style top right) and but generally it’s not very scary menu browse to application system. The biggest difference is the software centre – it’s a place where you can pick up free apps to use. There’s quite a few covering many things.


Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre


Wander outside of the software centre to find applications and it’s a very much more scary place though. Still, for general use the software centre does the job nicely. So in terms of apps out of the box, there’s a standard set covering word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, internet browsing and social networking.


Social networking client


Personally I tend not to use gwibber as my social networking client – it’s a little clunky and by default only refreshes every 5 minutes.  Still, it does integrate into the OS itself meaning any updates are subtle when minimised and once setup you get single sign on.  The office type applications are much like Office 2003 – not very scary, but less familiar now that I use the MS ribbon interface all day work!


Word Processor


Browsing the internet with Firefox is pretty much the same as it is under Windows.


Firefox - Web Browsing


As you might expect, the OS does include some image integration – it’s easy to pick out photos etc through it.


Pictures - as per windows XP


Overall it’s really good.  The wireless connects instantly and holds its connection well. Even my o2 dongle works. Best of all it’s free! These screenshots are all from Ubuntu 10.04 – but 10.10 is available now which has some minor enhancements. The most noticeable being that they changed the font – pretty irrelevant really! I have found it really helpful that Thunderbird 3.1 is part of the software centre – local calendars are the way forwards – especially if you have keep a close eye on your schedule.

Posted in General Meh | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“Just make it less shit!”, I yelled

Posted by Alan on November 23, 2009

Not so long ago I bought Windows 7 (Home Premium). I bought it because I wanted rid of Vista. Vista caused me so many little irritations but since I’d paid £70 or so for the OEM licence I wasn’t going to be swayed to play with Tux the penguin, not for all every day activities anyway.

So, £65 quid later and some cursing later I arrived at Windows 7. Delightfully, there amount of effort (therefore cursing) in the upgrade from Vista to 7 was fairly minimal. It wasn’t as simple as Ubuntu 8.10 > 9.04 but then I didn’t have many applications installed on Ubuntu. Of course Windows doesn’t acknowledge Linux so I can’t boot there now but it’s not exactly a problem and I guess I should put 9.10 on anyway…

So… what is it all about?


Desktop - Very much like Vista

Well the desktop is very much like Vista. The bottom toolbars have changed though, starting with the library dock:

Library Dock

Library Dock

Sure, I think Mac’s may have been able to do that for ages. But it is quite a nice feature – as you hover over different windows in the dock the main window comes up behind. This is good, but what does irritate me immensely is the new taskbar icon hiding in the bottom right.


You have to left click on the more icons menu then right click on your desired icon. It’d be loads better if it was just a pop out when hovering over the date/time area.

Another irritation is the the minimise all – thankfully still Windows+M but the icon has moved from the left hand side to the right.

The start menu is changed slightly, now the menu is better at context sensitivity and provides you with additional menu items based on the main items:

Start Menu

As you can just about see – the word menu shows you my most recently opened files. Similarly, most MS applications have been redeveloped to take account of this feature.

Perhaps the best feature is the concept of libraries (again I doubt this is an completely original idea – but it is well executed). One of my biggest gripes with Vista was that it was near impossible to separate Windows from my files. I don’t want to put my precious photos onto the same drive as Windows – even though I have an off site backup! With libraries it was very simple to define where things resided – in fact a library could span multiple drives which could come in really handy when I finally buy that SLR. Of course it could be improved – it’s no ‘4D data store’ like the true geek inside me wants but it’s a bloody good step in the right direction.

Overall, it is definitely an improvement. But arguably Windows 7 is everything Vista should have been.

Posted in Geek Streak | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Windows 7 Fail

Posted by Alan on November 3, 2009

This (for geeks anyway) is brilliant.

Win 7 Fail

Beautiful Fail

So, the “Problem signature” – is Blue Screen. Yep a proper fail. And the Windows version is actually 6.1.

Bill, can I have a refund now?

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Posted by Alan on April 30, 2009

There hasn’t been a whole lot going on for me since the excitement of LOOT and easter weekend. I’ve started my job as a Business Relationship Manager at TfL and it all seems to be going jolly well just yet.

So… my present to myself was to finally say yes to buying a new laptop and get on with it. Today arrived ‘Eclipse’ – my new Netbook (name inspired by it’s black fascia). Using ‘doze rather than *nix – overall seems very useful piece of kit. Very quick to setup the wireless and I’m pretty impressed with the almost mac-esque gesture controls. I guess I have no excuse not for being late with BCS work…

Robin’s pie shop in Wanstead has finally opened. Haven’t been yet – saving that excitement for the weekend when Ruth is away…

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Snazzy NAS

Posted by Alan on February 28, 2009

Last week I finally got around to setting up my NAS [Network Attached Storage] box. It’s pretty cool. £25 gets you the little enclosure. It plugs into the switch, in the back room – so I can’t hear it when it’s on. It is quite loud mainly due to the fact it is a hard drive and a fan in a small resonating metal box. Seems to work with Windows Vista (after a firmware upgrade), XP and 2K. Haven’t tried Linux yet but I assume it will probably work without many headaches.

Coupled with a 120GB hard drive I bought off Chris, it works well for the TV we download from 4OD, iPlayer, et al. especially now we don’t have a TV aerial!

Next task is to look at using it to backup inportant stuff and to see how secure the public FTP facility is.

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Windows 7

Posted by Alan on January 27, 2009

Yes! I’m one of the lucky thousands with Windows 7. So what’s new?

  • A slightly different UI to Vista, moving away from the familiar windows-y look and feel
  • Shiner graphics (well, if I wasn’t running it in a Virtual Machine)
  • Paint now looks like it’s part of Office 07
  • Internet Explorer 8

I haven’t spent much time playing yet, but it does look promising. Vista has been a bit of a waste of time/money for me in many ways. It looks a bit better but it doesn’t exactly make things easier, particularly when I start to faff on with LAME and Virtual Dub.

If you do like playing with tech, get it now though. It’s free. It seems to work and certainly isn’t any worse than what you could pay for. Infact, IE 8 looks pretty promising. Add a spellcheck and I might even think about using it from time to time!

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