iMac 27″ Review in ComputerWorld

September 3, 2010

This person’s review of the iMac 27″ machine is dead on. I agree  with everything he stated, in fact, it is as if I wrote the article!

Coming from using the Microsoft Windows OS since version 3.0, I can definitely say that the extra expense in getting a Mac is well worth it. In addition to the excellent hardware of the computer system, you get an OS that truly “just works”. No more hassle with device drivers, annoying popup warnings, etc. All of Apple’s apps that comes with the Macs all work together easily and nicely.

I still have to use a Windows NT machine for my day job, and I hate it more than ever. This morning I booted it up and had to wait for over 10 minutes for it to churn away and do its thing.  The disk drive was thrashing around and I have no clue what its doing! Why does it take soooo long to boot up? It’s all of this hassle that makes spending the extra money for a fast and efficient Mac very reasonable.

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My Intel Core 2 Quad CPU can’t run Windows 7 XP-Mode!!

October 25, 2009

win7One of the reasons why I bought the Windows 7 Professional version was to have the ability to run in “XP Mode”, which basically uses the Microsoft Virtual PC application to simulate a PC running Windows XP. This is a useful feature in case you have an application that just doesn’t want to run under Windows 7, so you can run it in XP-mode in a virtual PC inside a window. With Win 7 Pro, Microsoft provides you with a free copy of XP, so you should be all set. So I thought.

Apparently, you need to have a computer with a CPU that is “Hardware-assisted Virtualization” capable. And guess what? I don’t have one!

What’s really amazing, is that I have an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU (Model Q8200 @ 2.33 GHz) with 4 GB of RAM running Windows 7 64-bit OS and I can’t use this feature. My machine isn’t powerful enough. What the heck!!??

xp-mode

It seems that certain CPUs have this HAV technology that is a requirement for Microsoft Virtual PC in this mode. I can understand if I was running a Intel Solo or older Centrino CPU, but my Quad CPU isn’t good enough?

So beware of all the advertised capabilities for the various Windows 7 versions, as some of them may require a machine with the very latest CPU (or mor expensive CPU) to utilize them.

What is truly bizarre is that I was using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 with this very same computer (and my previous Core 2 Duo) with no problems. But for some reason, Microsoft decided to add on this ridiculous feature (probably to make people upgrade their computer).

My only recourse now, is to use a product such as VirtualBox (by Sun Microsystems) that emulates a x86 environment, and then install Windows XP inside it. Of course, that also means I need to find a copy of Windows XP to install, as the “free” one provided with Windows 7 Pro is not usable.


Remotely connecting to your PC

October 15, 2009

remote_desktopOften I need to work from my kitchen table because I have to keep an eye on my young son or new Labrador puppy from wrecking the house. As such, I use my trusty Dell Latitude D610 laptop to remotely connect to my office desktop PC (located upstairs in my home). What that means, is that I’m controlling my desktop PC from my laptop running applications, etc. just as if I was sitting in front of my PC.

How I do this, is by using an application called Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) which is provided by Microsoft with their Windows XP Professional and Vista Professional OS. A small server is running on my desktop PC, and I can make a connection to it from any PC or laptop on my home network using RDC. Since my home network connection is pretty fast, I see very little response delay using this setup.

Unfortunately, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Home Premium both don’t have the Remote Desktop Server software to use the RDC feature. You will need to get the Professional version of either OS package to have the Remote Desktop Server software. As such, I decided to look into other similar alternatives, as I use the RDC feature quite heavily for my own personal use. Read the rest of this entry »


Part III: Setting up the Acer Netbook for my Evaluation

October 10, 2009

checkliistIn my previous posting I gave you my initial feedback regarding the Acer 751h Netbook that I recently purchased from Costco. So far, I like what I see with regards to the hardware. I also understand that this is a low-powered Netbook machine, designed for portability and long battery life, so I’m not expecting a super fast laptop with the highest performance. Heck, this Netbook only cost me $290 US so I can only expect so much.

So here’s what I did to get the Acer Netbook setup for my evaluation:

1) Remove all the junkware from the system

I hate the McAfee antivirus software because it’s such a resource hog and slows down computer systems significantly. So the first thing I did was remove it from the system. I also removed the Carbonite Lite, Microsoft Office Student, Google Desktop, eSobi, and most of the installed games.

2) Ran the CCleaner freeware software

To remove all the dead entries in the system’s registry file, I ran the program called CCleaner (which I routinely use on my main desktop PC). It quickly identified and deleted all the dead entries pertaining to the software I just removed in step (1).

3) Setup WiFi connection to my home router

Since I need to be connected to the Internet to proceed, I configured the Acer Netbook to connect to my Belkin wireless router. I just used the standard procedure for making the WiFi connection. Read the rest of this entry »


Part II: Acer Netbook First Impressions

October 10, 2009

acer1In my previous posting, I noted that I was examining an Acer Aspire One 751h Netbook computer for my own personal use. After buying the Acer Netbook from Costco for $290 US, I brought it home and began the process of cleaning it up and conducting my 3-day evaluation process. But before I get into that discussion, let me first give you my initial impressions of the Acer 751h Netbook.

The best feature of this Netbook is the high resolution LED-backlit LCD screen. It’s 11.6 inches in size (measured diagonally) and has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The display is crystal clear, the sharpest I’ve ever seen on a laptop. I’ve got no complains regarding the screen.

With the 768 pixel vertical resolution, you can view much more on a displayed web page as you would with a 600 pixel vertical resolution. This means less vertical scrolling which is a very good thing.

The keyboard is also very comfortable to type on (and being a touch typist, that is important to me). It’s nearly-full size (about 90%) and the keys are very large compared to the smaller Netbooks. Also, the layout of the important keys are all in the right place. The only bad thing is that the directional arrow keys (up,down,left,right) and the Home/End/Page Up/Page Down keys are crammed into four small keys at the lower right corner of the keyboard. Certainly  not a deal breaker, by no means. I have no complaints with regard to typing on this keyboard.

The Netbook is very, very quiet. It does apparently have a CPU fan, but it’s whisper quiet (at least, so far!). The bottom of the unit feels slightly warm, but barely noticeable. The palmrest areas are cool, which is important if you do a lot of typing (a former laptop that I owned had the hard drive located under the left palmrest area and it got so hot that it was uncomfortable to use). Read the rest of this entry »


64-Bit or 32-Bit Operating System?

August 30, 2009

32bit_64bitIn the past, it seemed that the 32-bit operating system was the dominate OS among most personal computers. Microsoft Windows, Apple Macs, and most flavors of Linux/Unix ran on 32-bit systems. With the modern CPUs now having 64-bit capability, I’m seeing more and more use of the 64-bit OS. Recently, Apple released their Snow Leopard OS which is apparently completely 64-bit (for the Intel processors). Microsoft offers 64-bit for both their Windows XP and Windows Vista OSes, with the same for the upcoming Windows 7 OS.

I started using Windows XP 64-bit for the first time on my company’s work laptop, and it does seem to run fine. The biggest benefit, is that I’m no longer restricted to 2 GB of memory per application (the 64-bit OS can use all the installed memory). The only issue I have, is that some applications and device drivers won’t work properly. For example, I have a 32-bit version of a PDF creator software that simply crashes when I try to run it. My only recourse, is to find an equivalent 64-bit version or try a different application. It can be a pain, since you don’t know if the application is crashing because it is incompatible or if you’re missing something from the OS installation.

Recently I ordered a new Dell laptop for my son, and I noticed that Dell is installing Windows Vista 64-bit OS on their machines that have more than 2 GB of memory. This seems to be a new standard policy for Dell, since all of their Intel CPU machines are 64-bit compatible. Thus, it appears that the 64-bit OS is now considered a mainstream commodity.

With Windows 7 about to be officially released in 2 months, I’m contemplating whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version. I have 4 GB of memory on my Desktop PC (running a Intel Quad 2 Core processor), so my hardware could certainly make use of the 64-bit OS. My only concern is that my existing software won’t run on the machine. Critical software includes my Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 compilers, recorded TV video processing tools (e.g., DVRMSToolbox), TV Tuner card and IR Blaster devices, and Palm WebOS SDK. That’s why I’m leaning a bit toward the Windows 7 Home Professional version, since it has a “Windows XP Compatibilty Mode” which should run applications designed for the WinXP under Windows 7. Whether this will also take care of older 32-bit applications, I’m not sure.

In any case, the distribution CD for Windows 7 comes with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so if the 64-bit OS doesn’t seem to work out for me I can always drop back down to the 32-bit version.


Can Linux Replace Microsoft Windows For Me?

July 4, 2009

linuxLast week, my wife and I had some time to kill before the post office opened so we decided to hang out at the nearby library for a bit. While there, I pursued the various magazine back issues and came across Linux Format, a UK-based publication devoted to Linux information and topics. After reading through two of them, it perked my interest in using Linux on my aged Dell D610 laptop (currently running Windows 7 Beta). In addition, my wife’s recent desire to switch to an Apple MacBook Pro (which is running a derivative of Unix) also got me thinking of possibly using an alternative to the Microsoft Windows OS. Could I switch off of Windows to something else? Would I have everything that I needed to continue working effectively?

Since the various available distributions of Linux are free for download, I decided to take some time and explore two of them, specifically Fedora and OpenSuse. Both of these flavors of Linux were rated highly in the Linux Format magazine, so I thought they would be a good bet as an alternative.

Luckily for both of these distributions, they have a “Live CD” version which allows you to boot up the OS from a CD (or DVD) and test out their flavor of Linux without actually installing the OS on your disk drive. I decided to go this route, since it was the most noninvasive method of checking out the Linux OS without altering my existing Windows OS installation.

Note, that Linux has different GUI environments that you can choose from, which will define the user interface (i.e., windows look-n-feel, menus, etc). I decided to test out the KDE interface for Fedora, and the GNOME interface for Fedora and OpenSuse.

So to start, I simply inserted one of the Live CDs in my CD/DVD-ROM drive and rebooted my system. It took a while for Linux to boot up (since it was reading everything from the CD-ROM drive), but after a few minutes I was up and running with Linux! Read the rest of this entry »