Archive for the ‘Vista’ category

MSI’s new bling

May 28, 2009

Wired has a good run down of the new MSI X340. They are calling it the MSI’s Macbook Air and for good reason. Take a look at the pics on Newegg. Now I haven’t gotten my hands on one of these just yet, but it looks rather compelling. It would seem that MSI fixed all of the shortcomings of the Apple Macbook Air, namely two USB ports plus built in Ethernet. Oh don’t forget the SD card, vga and hdmi slots. Oh and most importantly it comes in at half the price. I’d say the chief advantage the Air has is OSX, but I bet the X340 will run Linux pretty well.

Really if you are in the netbook market and are looking for something a little bigger (screen size is 13 inches) and looks good than this is the machine for you. I like a good looking machine. I don’t think you have to sacrifice style for price or size and the MSI proves that.

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Vista SP2 is available

May 26, 2009

Vista Service Pack 2 is now available for download for those who want it.  It will later be pushed through Automatic Updates.

There is a Service Pack blocker tool in case you want to have greater control over which updates you receive.

World of Application Launchers

March 16, 2009

I am all about key strokes and not using the mouse. For me I spend a lot of time typing, and stopping to mouse breaks the flow too much. When I first switched to Apple OSX I was at a lose for how to launch applications quickly (like Window+r). What I didn’t realize was the world of application launchers. These are key stroke based applications that allow you to launch programs with a few clicks of the keys (as apposed to the mouse). I call them application launchers, but that is their most basic function and primary I guess.

The leader of this group is Quicksilver. The application at the time was not open source, but it was free. I don’t know if it came first to the bunch, but it certainly was the most mature and created the standard for all other application launchers. My key binding is ctrl+space which opens a box where I type a particular program or command. Mostly I use it to launch programs (it annoys my wife that the doc is virtually empty, why do I need any programs on the doc?). You can also control itunes or send IM’s along with many other features. If you are a Mac user and aren’t using this you need to install it now.

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For Linux there is a nice product called GNOME-do. It is for use in the GNOME desktop which is what is installed by default with Ubuntu. Until recently GNOME-do was pretty weak on features. But recent releases made GNOME-do the quicksilver of the Linux world. It is open source and can do a few tricks outside of launching applications.

For Windows there are a few competitors, but I find Launchy good enough for my needs. Again same concept only for windows. It has been a while since I used Windows so I can’t really speak for what it can or can’t do. It scans your program files to make its list and does a pretty good job. If any of you have experience with the product I would love to hear that in the comments.

So this is the world of application launchers. There is one for each OS. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Competition between Linux and Windows 7 It’s a good thing.

January 23, 2009

So around here we are devided. I typically look at Linux and Mac issues and Ben does Windows. I certainly like to poke fun at Windows guys from time to time and I can take the heat back, but in the end I think all of the OS have their place and I use them all interchangeably. The Register has an interesting interview with Mark Shuttleworth (the creator of Ubuntu) talking up how good Windows 7 is and that he likes the competition. It is a good article, but not necessarily expected. After all you would expect the creator of a direct competitor would bemoan a good OS and talk down features and functionality. Mark even talks about how Windows 7 will be a compelling competitor on netbooks, where Linux has thrived. It is good to see someone realistic about this whole debate, and someone looking forward to the competition. From the article:

In fact, Shuttleworth believes a good version of Windows will end the current phony war between Windows and Linux in the high-growth netbook market and reignite the fight on features and capabilities.

I tend to agree here. Windows XP is quite old and while it is a solid and good OS (much better than Vista imo) it is starting to look and become stagnant. It is showing its age. However, Vista was too much for the low powered netbooks to handle so the battle between Linux and Window’s latest product has been on hold. It is time for Windows to duke it out on the battle field to see who wins. This will be quite a challenge for Linux/Ubuntu to overcome. It is obvious that the uptick in Linux and Mac adoption is a direct result of the Vista boondoggle, so it is hard to predict what will happen to the shifting market numbers if Windows 7 is a success. Part of me wants to see Redmond go down in flames and the other part of me can’t seem to let it go. But regardless of my personal preferences competition is always a good thing. As 3 major competitors are starting to emerge on an ever shifting and diverse market they have to strive to innovate, and that is good for all of us.

Apple in the Enterprise

December 17, 2008

Ars has an interesting article looking at whether Apple is making a bid for the enterprise. I’ll admit that Apple is first and foremost a consumer end user company. Traditionally they have not been about enterprise. I also admit that Windows has dominated this market and continues to, but I think the Ars article incorrectly assumes that Apple is making no efforts in the Enterprise market.

In the end, the question of Apple and the enterprise comes down to this: if Apple wanted to attack the enterprise, it has the bankroll to develop and hire the expertise to do so. But given that its consumer efforts are going so well, why bother?

So their assumption is two fold. A) they assume that shiny cool looking objects have no place in the business and B) that Apple is making no effort and why should this change.

In the old days a lot of organizations relied on Access databases and various other products that were entirely Windows only. Now organizations seem to be moving to web-based standards that better incorporate Mac and Linux machines. This can only be a good thing. Access databases were buggy, and the software wasn’t that great to start with. In today’s corporate environment there are many people happily using Mac OS in spite of a Windows strong hold. This is also true of the educational environment. IT shops realize more and more that multiple OS may be present and all need to be supported. So I see a general trend towards OS agnostic business. Of course that has nothing to do with Apple, but it works in Apple’s favor. The article also correctly points out that there is great dissatisfaction with the Vista upgrade. It is obvious on the consumer market as you see Apple and Linux grow in popularity, but on the IT side I have yet to hear of any organization (and I interviewed at several and worked at two different ones this year) migrate to Vista. The cost was too high and there were too many bugs in the initial Vista release (I could write a big article just on what made Vista bad and why we didn’t upgrade). So the stage seems set for Apple to swoop in and take over the enterprise. So why haven’t they?

I give Apple more credit than Ars. I think they have made huge efforts into the Enterprise world. First they now have OS X server. If you take the time to look at all of the features and white papers you will see that this is a full featured solution for a Mac network. It has authentication, email, calendaring, and much more. Now I grant you that most of this is either open source tools repackaged with a pretty gui or outright use of open source, but hey isn’t that what open source was designed for? Since OS X is a fully compliant Unix server they can run most of the open source software and why should they reinvent the wheel? The point is that this is more than an effort. This is a full solution and actually can be a solution for quite a few things outside of the Mac only world (podcasting and such). Significant effort was put into the latest 10.5 offering. Secondly look at the iPhone 2.0 software. Sure they weren’t able to give full Exchange support, but I believe that is more Microsoft’s fault than a lack of effort on Apple. Apple gave the iPhone VPN, WPA-Enterprise, and much more support in 2.0. All of those things were specifically designed with the enterprise in mind.

I think Ars is confusing Apple’s lack of movement as a lack of care. I think this is Apple being Apple. When have they ever shown care even in the consumer market? Apple wants you to come to them on their terms. Their entire ethos is built around telling you what you want, when you want it, and this is how much you will pay. Why should the enterprise be any different. Even Apple’s commercials aren’t that proactive, and since when have you seen Microsoft advertise extensively for enterprise either? Apple is doing just fine breaking into the corporate enterprise without selling itself or going against its morals. Why would Apple want to tap into this market? The enterprise market is huge, and slow to change. If Apple is able to take over the enterprise they ensure stability and annual income for many years to come. Companies are making the switch on their own. I work for a corporation that is largely Mac with a Linux infrastructure, and when I was in Education I warned my replacements that they would have to support Apple because you couldn’t stop the onslaught of user demand (Mac users were literally growing exponentially each year). I think the end result is that Vista is such a disaster for Microsoft that Apple is able to sit back and watch the market shift. The enterprise is always more conservative and slower to react, but you can certainly see even that shifting. Companies are moving toward Mac in the enterprise all on their own. So is it time for Apple in the enterprise? I certainly hope so. It would certainly help keep me employed longer.

Killer songbird add-ons by Lifehacker

December 17, 2008

Ok I admit it I love songbird. When I first saw the app I fell in love with the concept (back when it was first released). I quit using it when the beta versions were too buggy and the concept wasn’t fully realized, but now that version 1.0 has been released I am sold. The most compelling reason to try songbird is the add-ons. When 1.0 came out there were only a few, but Lifehacker has a list of must have add-ons.

Forgive me for just re-posting Lifehacker, but I haven’t had time to dig through all of the add-ons and this is a perfect list. I hope you will give songbird a try.

Amarok 2.0 now released

December 11, 2008

Amarok is considered by many to be the king of media players. I have always found its interface to get in the way. I also had problems with it being Linux only. Since I use different OS I need a cross platform tool. However, 2.0 looks to have some really compelling features, and now you can use Amarok on Windows and Mac.

Both Windows and Mac are still in Beta, so you might run into some bugs, but this gives you the chance to test this software out regardless of OS affiliation. I am excited to give this great program another try to see if I like it. Don’t forget the other players already discussed on this blog.

First impression is that it integrates well with OSX. When you first install it will ask you to import settings from iTunes. It kept freezing on me at one podcast. So I don’t know what to do about that just yet. As a result it didn’t pull all of my album art and such, but really the only program I have found that does that automatically is Banshee.

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It is pretty self explanatory how to do things like download album art or create play-lists. The organization looks pretty good as well.

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The big thing to explore is the “Internet” tab. Check out the settings there.

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Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Cheers