Posts Tagged ‘Software’

When to buy Vista so it doesn’t suck!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I have a number of PC’s at my disposal with both Vista Home Premium and XP Professional running on them.  My main PC is running Vista with a quad core CPU with 4GB Ram as I do a fair bit of design and graphics work.  My PC was built to run Vista among other things.

I frequent a lot of forums and to be honest I for one am sick of reading the ‘should I upgrade to vista threads’.  These will continue as most people hate to use a search tool on forums and often make a post like this hoping for the answer they want to hear but often see the one they don’t.

The Operating System (OS) you use be that Windows, Linux or Apple is a personal choice, however it is also a hardware choice.  In that I mean you would not try (or should I say you should not) and run Vista for example on a Pentium IV 1.8 ghz PC with 512MB ram (see my note below re minimum requirements).  While it might run (or walk) the computer was never designed to run Vista.

I do a small amount of desktop support mainly for relatives and I am often told that the computer shop salesman said that Vista will run on their old machine.  Just the other week a relative asks me to come over and have a look at their computer as it is all of a sudden running slow.  Well guess what they installed Vista because the salesman told them too.

It would be easy to blame the salesman for saying it should work but I believe it is the user to blame.  My reason is that for any purchase you make be it software, hardware, a car or even a house you should do your homework.  If your PC was bought with XP stay with XP unless you have made some good hardware upgrades.

I know there are also quite a few places that sell new PC’s with Vista that can hardly run Vista very well, this I believe is the salesman and shops fault but again the buyer should ask to see it running with the applications that the client is going to use.  Kind of like taking a car for a test drive.  Just ensure that the computer your testing it on in the shop is exactly the same specifications as what they are selling you and get it in writing if you can.

For those that have already bought it, what to do now that you have Vista?  Well if its an older machine, uninstall it and reinstall XP or update your hardware – plain and simple.

I often have a chuckle to myself about all the bagging Vista gets and will frequently make an argument for Vista rather than against it.  I find Vista far better than XP but again I have a PC that is well above the minimum requirements to run Vista.

Microsoft suggested minimum requirements for Vista

Microsoft suggested minimum requirements for Vista

So what are those minimum requirements you say?  Well this is where it gets interesting as Microsoft on their own site suggests;

  • An 800 MHz processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • A 20 GB hard drive with 15 GB of free space

Well I am here to tell you again while it might run (or crawl) it will not run well and really Microsoft needs a slap to the back of the head for those suggested minimums.

So I looked further and they have additional system requirements recommendations;

Microsoft recommended Vista requirements

Microsoft recommended Vista requirements

For Home Basic

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 512 MB of system memory
  • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory

For Home Premium / Business / Ultimate

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of system memory
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
    • WDDM Driver
    • 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
    • 32 bits per pixel

Again in my opinion these are still too low and should not be recommended as minimums.

My suggested minimum is;

  • Intel or AMD CPU at 2.4ghz or better, dual or quad core preferred (32 or 64 bit)
  • 2GB DDR2 ram
  • 160GB harddrive – but with hard drives so cheap go to 500GB
  • 256MB PCI-E video card

If you have those minimums the PC will run very well with Vista.  If you do not have anything close to that by all means try Vista but please please don’t complain on your local newsgroup or forums that Vista sucks as you should be using XP.

I am also sure that those that read this post will want to bag MS no matter what they do and that is your choice but please do that elsewhere, I for one am quite happy using MS products such as Vista and will probably continue to do so for a long time…

So does Vista suck?  Well no, not in my view.  I find it far better than XP and more intuitive once you get use to the few ‘minor’ layout changes and where things are.  I also find it handles multi tasking far better with little to no memory issues with many many windows open (remember I have 4GB) whil eon XP I continually had memory issues even with 3GB+ ram.

Crystalxp.net Bricopacks

Crystalxp.net Bricopacks

Visually Vista is nicer than XP but that should not be the only reason to go Vista, if that is your only reason for wanting Vista then there are many sites where you can get a Vista theme for your XP that will turn your XP machine into a virtual Vista one – the best is CrystalXP.

Personally I have never had an issue with Vista and while many are already looking ahead to Windows 7 please bear in mind that when that arrives that too will have its own issues and minimum system requirements and I am sure the same people that are bagging Vista will bag Windows 7.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be interested to read any of your similar stories…

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AVG Link Scanner fix coming…

Monday, July 7th, 2008

If you have been reading any of the Internet or web developer or similar forums you may have come across several posts in relation to AVG’s linkscanner found in its latest Free and Paid products.

If you are not aware of the issue here is a quick summary 🙂

One of the components of the version 8.x of AVG is called LinkScanner and what is does (or did) was follow links from search results via Google and other search engines and visited those sites and checked the pages for any malicious content.  The problem is that it did this even if you did not intend to go to those sites and as a result slowed down your Internet experience and added to your download bandwidth without you even knowing.  It also caused web statistics of the sites it checked to record the visits and as a result this caused massive incorrect analytical data as the pages were in fact not being visited.

While the best intentions were their to protect you from any possible malicious web sites (which is good) it had a negative effect on your browsing and bandwidth.  There were many suggestions that your should change your Virus Scanner to other products and while that may have been fine for some others that have either already paid for AVG or did not have the know how to change were sort of stuck with AVG.

Hey me for one, I have the knowledge to change my Virus Scanner but I went with and bought a 3 licensed copy of AVG based on positive feedback on the forums I often read some several months back.  I am also very happy with AVG with exception to the Linkscanner which I disabled anyway.

Fortunately with the volume of users on Whirlpool and other like forums AVG has accepted the issue as not ideal and is now about to release an update on the 9th July that will change Linkscanner to only scan those pages you will actually visit, just prior to it loading.  This will result in a slightly slower connect to the site your wanting to visit as I assume it has to be checked first but it is better to be safe than sorry,  Actual performance of the new Linkscanner is still to be determined but if it is still causing grief you can still deactivate it if you want.

So great power to the people and it is good to see Grisoft accept it and take action to resolve the issue.

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2nd Post :) – What I use everyday

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

OK not the best start to my blog as I have been rather busy with many other things, so what helps me organise my busy schedule and what applications do I use everyday?

My email clientThunderbird and the Calendar add-on called Lightening.  I was a long time user of Outlook and its built in calendar until a friend a few years back said had I tried Thunderbird and once tried and tested I never looked back.  If your an Outlook user and are considering either upgrading Outlook (or Office) or looking at other email client options I really do encourage you to try Thunderbird – you will not be sorry.

Like Firefox it has a host of available add-ons to meet your specific needs, for example I liked my Signatures feature in Outlook, Thunderbird does not come with a same signature feature by default but a nice add-on comes to the rescue and all is good again – there are several options as well as stationary options – have look at them here and choose the one that best suits your requirements – I use Signature Switch as I have 8 well used email accounts 🙂

My browserFirefox 3 now after its recent release, much better and faster than Firefox 2 and is way way ahead of Internet Explorer.  I have and still have to use IE for testing as more often than not there is some small style quirk that causes a page to look odd in IE compared to what works well in Firefox, but I will admit that IE7 is a big improvement on IE6 but still not up to scratch with FF2, let alone FF3.

My Firefox would not be complete with my most used add-ons including;

Brief – excellent for RSS feeds to get the latest feed updates (that you subscribe to) and then be able to quickly browse through them and then follow the relevant links to read the full articles.

Colourful tabs – been using this one for a long time, it helps me track which tab I am on as I tend to have around 10 open at any one time.

DownThemAll – A must for anyone that does quite a bit of downloading :).  You can use it to download all links on a page, images and more – really nifty features with simultaneous downloads and also the ability to add downloads paused so you can download them during off peak times if you are like me and have an ISP that uses Peak and Off Peak bandwidth settings.

Dummy Lipsum – neat and easy to generate example text strings for filling content for example pages etc as I design and create web sites and templates

My Aussie dictionary of course so my colour is with a u and not just color – no offence intended for any US readers 😛

Firebug – now this is a MUST for any one that has or is developing a web site.  It allows you to inspect the code of the page and more to identify any coding errors – what can I say this has saved me countless hours of time.

FoxyTunes – got to have my online radio (radio.wazee) playing while I work, be lost with out it – simple and easy to use with my winamp player 🙂

Google Toolbar – well I guess I added this as it helps me in a number of ways, searching is one – er der.  But also for finding images, translating pages, highlighting searched text, spell checking and more – I just find it useful.

Stumble-upon – Probably one of the best add-ons I have ever come across.  The whole stumble-upon idea is just brilliant and simple.  I have located countless web sites I now use often (that is for another post soon) that I would not have found without Stumble-upon – if you have not tried it yet I suggest you do – excellent.

Web-Developer – as the name says this is great for anyone that develops web sites.  Used with Firebug this adds more functionality to pin point errors, test with and without style sheets and other web components, resizing windows for window size tests and so much more, again a must for anyone that designs web sites.

My Graphics Application of choice is now Photoshop CS3.  When I say now it is because I have been a long term user of Paint Shop Pro, back when it was owned by JASC, then Corel got their grubby hands on it and well ever since then I would not even think about upgrading from my version 9 of Paint Shop Pro.  I resisted for a long time the move to Photoshop simply because of the cost of the software.  While great I think it would be better and more widely used if it did not cost so much, but in the end I went with Photoshop.  Before any would be Gimp users out there say have I tried Gimp the answer is yes, and while it is a great piece of software, especially as it is Open Source I like the way Photoshop works and for the moment prefer it.

My Code editor(s) of choice – yes I like code more than I like WYSIWYG applications.  Homesite and Notepad++ are my two very regularly used applications.  While Homesite is now getting a tad old I have not ‘yet’ found a HTML editor that works as good as it does.  By all means I have tried and tested many others, many many others but I keep coming back to Homesite.  I have a host of snippets and other bits of code I use over and over again that I have embedded with Homesite and its link with Topstyle for style sheet creation is very handy.  I hope that Adobe look at developing a new version of Homesite soon as I don;t know what to go to next (by all means suggest away and I will see if I have tried them already).

Notepad++ is my quick edit notepad replacement and source viewer for Firefox and IE.  I like it as it is able to have multiple files open with a tabbed interface and it will pretty much open any file you want it to open and it does not mess with any of your code when you save, close etc and has very good search and replace functions.

For file comparisonWinMerge is my side by side code checker of choice.  It has helped me many many times where I have had to update a piece of software (php script or the like) and I had to check for changes from one file to the next – easy to read with highlighted changes when comparing one file to another – also allows full directory comparisons.

FTPingCuteFTP, I know filezilla is good but have been using Cuteftp for so long its more a trust in its use form me than anything else – I know it back to front and it has worked flawless for me for many years.

Backing up Syncback SE, ever heard of the phrase backup backup backup, if you do not yet backup daily, or at least weekly then give yourself a quick slap :).  Backups are a must and while Windows and the various Linux distros have backup options built in I have always gone back to and use SyncBack SE.  There is also a free version that works just as good.  It allows me to synchronize between PC’s so I can jump on the other PC here in the office and still have all my files and it can also sync to external drives, CD, DVD or even memory sticks.  Has a built in scheduler and can be invoked with Windows scheduler if required.  This little tool has saved me many time 🙂

Well they are my every day apps, I have others but that will do it for this post – I will add others later as I find more time.  Oh and y the way, none of the links above are affiliate links – just links to the products in case your interested, I simply use these products myself and thought I’d share my experiences with you.

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