Tag Archives: Windows 7

HP vs. Apple

I had mentioned to my wife a while back that I hadn’t been shopping for a new computer since I got my Mac.  I was right.  I blew up my MacBook several months ago and I haven’t stopped searching for a new PC since.  I have been through a used notebook and am currently using two desktops, but I still want a new computer.

I just priced out HP’s Envy series notebook with 6GB RAM, Core i7, 500GB HDD, and 3-year accidental coverage.  Plus a few other things (like a wireless mouse): $2588.76.  For a laptop.  I might as well buy a MacBook Pro if I’m going to drop that much cash.

So I popped open a new tab and had a  15″ MacBook Pro configured in 60 seconds, with as close to the same hardware specs as the HP: 4GB RAM, HD-capable screen, 500GB drive, 3-year AppleCare plan. No Apple Remote (they’re not included these days): $2648.00.  For a laptop.

They’re both built much the same (single-piece metal base), but now I can’t decide.  I don’t have the money anyway, but it would be a hard decision with that much money.  For what I do, I would probably be better off with the PC, but I know the MacBook would still be around in five years.

Given that, I already have a 20″ iMac, so if I really need the Mac, I have one. I don’t already have a mobile workstation, so the PC would probably win.  I know, I know… I can Boot Camp the Mac or virtualize Windows if I need it in the field, but why?  If I’m going to need Windows in the field, why don’t I just take Windows to the field?

I will say that Apple is not overpriced – they just don’t sell cheap crap like Acer and eMachines.  Apple just doesn’t appeal to the masses, and they know their niche and fill that role very well.  I just found it interesting to see that an HP premium notebook and the MacBook Pro match up pretty well.  So for everyone that says “Macs are for rich, spoiled kids,” think about it when you walk out of Best Buy with that flimsy plastic shit you paid $499 for.

                

It Was Over a Long Time Ago

I forgot to tell you that my Windows 7 Beta box crashed over a month ago. It wasn’t Windows 7, though – the hard drive was one that I’d bought back in ’01. Maybe before that. The old Seagate 40GB EIDE just couldn’t hang any longer.

I have tried to restore the machine to a new drive via a backup from the Windows Home Server, but the backups weren’t available for some reason. I have not had the time or inclination to try again, and I simply don’t want a computer in my bedroom any longer. I enjoyed the time I spent with Windows 7, and it looks to be a good change for Microsoft.

In contrast, I thought of something the other day: I have been scouting computers for years, even though I have so many. Since I got this MacBook a year ago, I can’t remember the last time I tried to plan out buying another computer. It just doesn’t happen anymore. I believe that deep down inside, I am content with my current computer. The only things I research anymore are servers. I want to build a distributed system for cluster computing. I haven’t shopped for a Windows Laptop (or any laptop, for that matter) for a long time, and I believe my next trip to get another computer will be a short one. The MacBook Pro will do.

Coming Right Up…

They came around today. I had the same problem today as yesterday installing Java, and finally a message popped up with a solution.

I followed these instructions (please don’t ask me to explain the registry key we deleted, because I can’t), and Java installed perfectly. Office 2007 went smoothly just now as well. Enterprise Architect is on its way to my system, and I think I might have a fully-functional machine now. Isn’t that weird? I wonder if Microsoft reads this blog (they don’t) because it seems to be an eerie coincidence that I write about something and they fix it. Also, they don’t allow me to write anything to go along with the crash reports like Apple does.

Let’s try NetBeans now.

Uh-Oh. Installer Problems in Windows 7

I’m having problems installing software on Windows 7. I’m not going to freak out and blast Microsoft for this; it’s a beta system, and the same error has occurred with two different software packages: Sun’s JDK 6 and Microsoft Office 2007. I have found some search results that lead me to believe that someone has succeeded in installing Office ’07 on Windows 7, but I can’t find out a whole lot about it.

One thought is that this is the 64-bit edition of Windows, and not much has been tested on it. XP x64 brought some pain to the compatibility area, and I don’t think I’ve ever installed Vista x64. So I can’t say that I have a lot of experience, and I don’t know what to do to find the culprit. I do know that I get the same two dialog boxes when installing either the JDK or Office 2007.

Another thought is that Microsoft might have changed something in their installer (or did they even have it before Win7?), or it’s a combination of the two. Whatever the case, today the computer is simply a radio.
I guess I’ll have to use my laptop for the rest of the day; I need to do a White Box Test Plan for my Software Testing class, and draw several UML diagrams for my capstone. I can’t install NetBeans because I can’t install the JDK, and I can’t install Office 2007 to do the report. I’m not mad, but I really wanted the desktop to do all this design work instead of cramming it all on the laptop.

Video Driver Update Without Restart in Windows 7

Does anyone remember not having to restart after the simplest Windows Update? I think there was one last year…

Something happened today that blew my mind. I started Windows Update on my Vista laptop and saw there were 4 important updates. “What updates are necessary today for Windows 7?,” I asked myself. I opened Windows Update (herein referred to as WU because I am tired of typing it) and there were no critical updates, but two optional ones.

One was for the monitor I’m using, an Acer V193W (who knows why?) and for my video card, a GeForce 6600. I told WU to go ahead with both updates and went about whatever it was I wanted to do. I was reading e-mail when it happened, and swore I’d experienced the first hiccup with the beta OS.

The screen went black and I saw a blinking cursor at top left, as if the machine had restarted as a result of a hard crash. “WTF just happened?,” I said. Then the desktop came back and the browser window resituated itself in the maximized position where I had it previously. A little pop-up at bottom right told me that my video driver had been installed successfully.

This tells me something wonderful – that things in Windows 7 are so modular that restarting the GUI with a new graphics driver doesn’t even bother any other part of the system. Isn’t that great? Vista promised fewer restarts and I believed them. They lied. Windows 7 just surprised the crap out of me with the <blink> “Okay, done” -style of updating this morning.

Just for reference, I’ve been running Windows 7 since Friday, January 10, 2009 and I have not been forced to restart yet.

Windows 7 First Impression

I have been testing Windows 7 for two days now on the only computer I could spare. It’s an aging AMD Athlon 64 3200+ running at 2.01GHz (that’s a single-core CPU for the young folks here) with 2GB RAM. Internet Explorer 8 is all I’ve used, and things seem to be much better than Vista’s first days. It hasn’t broken yet, and I like some of the new visual features – one of which I’ve been waiting on since Windows 2000.

The system is not slow. At idle, it’s only using about 43% of the RAM. Things really do work. I’m blogging this from the beta system now.

The biggest UI change that Windows 7 brings is the behavior of the taskbar. The quick launch is gone, folks. For the three people on Earth who have studied my desktop, the quick launch toolbar is a staple for me.

I think that’s one reason I got to liking my MacBook so much – I put every program I use in the Dock.

So when I gained the experience of the Windows 7 taskbar, I couldn’t help but feel that I was between the two.

By default, programs aren’t there if they’re not open, with the exception of the left three (IE8, Explorer, and Windows Media Player). One can, however, leave a program icon in the taskbar by right-clicking it and choosing “Pin this program to taskbar” from the context menu. This is not at all unlike the same dialog in OS X that says “Keep in Dock.”

But that’s not what I was waiting on. I knew they could fix my one pet peeve, and they finally did. I use a lot of USB-interface storage devices, and I tend to use them simultaneously. I also use good computing practices when I want to disconnect the drive. However, the only piece of information provided to me when I want to release a drive is the drive letter. To figure out which one it is, I have to go to Computer and look. Only then will I know for sure which drive to release. Windows 7 actually puts the drive label in the release menu, so I don’t have to change my train of thought or spend two extra clicks. For that I am proud of Microsoft’s development team for listening and making sense of something.

So far, I am pleased with Windows 7, but haven’t had the opportunity to really put it to use. I have had Windows Media Player playing a solo piano channel from Lucky 7 Radio for nearly the entire uptime of the system and have crunched some movies, but I haven’t done any programming, YouTube watching, schoolwork, or much else on it. I will try to use it as if it were my only computer for as long as I can and will tell you all about it if something goes wrong. If I don’t write, just assume that everything is okay with Windows 7 and go ahead and dive in when they release it. The only thing that people won’t like is the once-again drastic UX change. Maybe more on that later.