July 7, 2008

Apple logoI have always been a reluctant Apple user but over the past year or so I have found myself surrounded by more and more Apple products and you know what?  I like them.

Yes they can be over priced, yes they do overly use DRM, and yes there is an element of style over substance.

So am I that superficial that I can be converted despite all of those things or even because of them?

Well not really, my love affair began fairly simply with my other half wanting and getting a iPod shuffle last year.  I scoffed of course having never used iTunes and read all the negatives about it’s DRM and how it limits the way you can use your downloads and devices associated with it.  And I still hold those views.  But iTunes really is a very slick and user friendly piece of software.  It makes downloading podcasts, which I listen to lots of, and other sundry simple via an Ipod.  However I don’t use iTunes for the negative reasons I stated.  However I still like Apple products.  Again, why?

Well since the day of my partners pink Shuffle I have been curious and as such have tired the majority of their products to the point of now writing this on a Macbook (as you will have an idea of if you have read my previous posts).

I like the iPods, especially when using them under Linux using software that allows you to edit as well as you can with iTunes if not with a little rougher UI.

Having used the nano, classic and shuffle I have found the zenith in the Touch.

My iPod Touch isn’t used for music or podcasts.  Why?  Because I have jailbroken it to use it as a very capable handheld mobile PC.  There isn’t much I can’t do with it using the inbuilt wifi.  It is use to check my email on the fly, sign in to an IM, check on the news, browse the web, check the whether and basically any other operation you can think that you might want to do on the move.  Of course it can’t replace the functionality of a fully fledged laptop but what it can do is replace my Asus EEE 701, which has now been handed down to my partner.  Yes, I love my Ipod Touch, not for it’s Ipodness, but for it’s functionality, when jailbroken of course.

So I guess I can move on to the Macbook.

I had never used an Apple computer until I got my hands on this one.  I knew what to expect from the style and looks; as I mentioned Apple products are simply stunning for the most part.

But hardware and OS X wise I had to lose my virginity.  OS X is slick and smooth, there are problems getting some freeware tools and programs that I am used to using, but  I am happy to be using a system that is close to Linux in it’s Unix core although I have yet to really get under the bonnet.  I haven’t even opened a terminal yet.  As such I can only comment on the GUI and it is functionally simple with installs via downloads very easy and it’s overall simplicity over complexity works well.

Hardware wise I am impressed.  The Core Duo model I have runs fairly fast after my upgrades.  I have installed 2 gigabytes of RAM (The maximum for this model I was rather sad to read), to replace the default 1 gigabyte.  I then changed the hard drive from a 60 gigabyte to a 120 gigabyte model.  What I noticed most doing this was just how easy it was to install the upgrades.  Remove the battery, undo three screws and you have access to everything most users would need to upgrade.  The whole operation can be done in under 10 minutes.  Now I come to my favourite aspects of the Macbook, and these alone are almost enough to keep me on it as my main machine.  The screen is simply gorgeous, the best I have seen on a laptop.  It is clear, bright and unbelievably crisp.  But the coup de tat is the battery life.  5 or 6 hours during my normal usage!!!  Brilliant, and coupled with the above, a deal sealer for me.

Yes Apple.  You have a convert.  Not because you are beautiful, although that helps.  You have your downsides in software availability  compared to a Windows or even Linux machine; and your DRM is horrible.  But your hardware is brilliantly designed and that coupled with the functionality of your devices… well, like I say, the Macbook will be my main machine for the foreseeable future and me and my Ipod Touch are never separated.

Maybe its time for me to try the Iphone?  I just hope my other half doesn’t read that!

Macbook Part 2

July 5, 2008

It is finally here and although it is second hand I had to sell my soul on ebay to get it.  It is the first generation Macbook so it is over two years old.

It needs some work.  I have replaced the hard drive from stock I already had laying around.  It also needs some ram as the stock it came with is minimal and I hope to install some today.


I am writing this blog post from the machine!  It is running OS X Tiger and  I have to say I am impressed with how slick it is.  It is nice to have a propriety machine that isn’t windows based.  It means I can finally migrate ‘totally’ away from the Redmond machine.  I expect I will be fiddling with for some time to come and that my Ubuntu Dell will be neglected no doubt.

It also means that the Asus passes to my partner and hers passes to our eldest.  She has been needing hers replacing for a while after she broke it.  So everyone wins.

Anyway, on with the work!

A Little Update

February 19, 2008

So, I have spent the evening giving the laptop a once over.  Have to admit I am thoroughly impressed to date.

Battery life if a steady 3 hours, and performance on Vista, after I uninstalled the shit as mentioned before sits at a steady 700 – 800 meg of RAM usage under mild usage, ie, a chat program and watching video.

What video?  The BBC’s semi-futuristic drama The Last Enemy.  An average little drama that i will be watching more of…  BBC iplayer isn’t bad either, though I won’t be using the p2p downloaded desktop verison, and it only works with xp / vista up to now.

Vista haters

February 11, 2008

These people really get on my nerves. Why?

Well Vista is designed for the ‘United Radio Op’s’ of this world. People who are pretty clueless when it comes to anything computer related. Not only them though. Vista is aimed at every walk of life computer user. So bearing that in mind it is going to be difficult to please everyone all of the time.

I’m going to list a few points and deflect them as best I can.

  • Vista is buggy, doesn’t work et al.

This is simply wrong. Vista is more stable than any other version of windows at it’s same time of life. Drivers? Yes, it was a problem, but you can’t expect a new operating system to have every driver covered, and that is less of an issue now. I just installed Vista on someones laptop and everything worked ‘out of the box’; from graphics to wireless. The driver argument simply isn’t one anymore. It’s stable and it works exceedingly well.

  • Vista is resource hungry

Compared to xp, Vista is resource hungry. What would run xp easily, sometimes will struggle to run Vista with all it’s bells and whistles. But. I don’t advocate ‘upgrading’ to Vista unless you have a pressing need, such as Direct 10 gaming, not that that has taken flight yet. If you aren’t upgrading, which the majority of everyday users wouldn’t do anyway, when else would you come into contact with Vista? If you bought a new machine. Well if you have bought a new machine, the specs will run Vista. People then complain, well what ran xp like lightning, runs Vista slowly. Yes, that is true, but then the price of a new PC reflects that. Prices of hardware have tumbled as usual for what you get. You can pick up a stick of 1gb of ram for £20 and get change these days. As is always the norm, if you splash out for a new cheap pc, you will get the performance of a cheap pc with regards to today’s software. If you buy a midrange to highend pc, you will get better performance. It was the same with xp. Times change and computing specifications reflect the advance. Software requirements increase with time as do the available high end components.

  • Vista is annoying with all it’s pop up windows

Security, security, security. It’s all people complain about these days. ‘Windows xp is soooo insecure’. So Microsoft add features to deal with this in Vista and we get. ‘Vista is soooo annoying with all its confirmations and pop-ups’….. Make your mind up….

  • DRM and phoning home

This is one aspect of Vista where I am not so happy. DRM I can accept from a 2007/2008 commercial OS, that’s the way the market is. As much as I dislike it MS couldn’t have released it any other way. The giant’s of intellectual property law / companies are focused this way and until something changes globally that’s the way it is. If you don’t want drm, install Ubuntu Linux, which is in many ways far superior to Vista and pirate your music and film. Microsoft could have tried to go in a different direction, but it simply isn’t viable until there is a commercial shift wider than one company, no matter how big they might be. Phoning home? Well this is something I can’t stand and one of the main reasons I don’t use Vista. Once you have activated your copy of windows, that should be that. No need to pry any further into your computing habits, ie every time you switch on your computer.

  • The frontend

It’s different than xp. Is that a reason to hate it? So some things are in different places and somethings work a little differently. Not really. As with most new products, there are changes and it takes a while to get used to them. That’s the way it works. If it were any other product it would have a settling in period and people would get used to it and that would be that. With Vista? Of course not. It’s a deal breaker, it’s awful, etc etc. Get over it. Use it for a few days and get over yourself. Things change.

Those are some main points. There are plenty more out there of course, and people are bound to disagree with me. But, in my opinion, Vista haters, for the most part, hate Vista because that is what they are conditioned to do, via peer pressure and for no other reason than it’s the cool thing to do.

Vista works, it works well, it’s stable, it’s frontend is very pretty to look at. It’s user friendly, all the features for the more experienced user are under the bonnet. The improvements over xp are up front and inside for all to see.

The only reason I can see to hate Vista is Big Brother syndrome. Saying that, MS has been going this way for a long time in xp and if you continued to use xp why not use Vista with your new machine. Like I say, don’t pay for the upgrade, but if you were happy with xp there is no reason you won’t be with Vista. Unless you are the above mentioned ‘Vista Hater’. Dell’s Ubuntu laptops retail for almost the same as it’s Vista products. SP1 is very quickly appearing over the horizon. Vista seems to be on the up and up. If you buy a new system as most people do, it will come with Vista and most people won’t have an issue after using it for a couple of weeks.

So how would I sum up?

Well Vista is here to stay. And unless you want to move to Linux or to a Mac OS, Vista does fine and is better than xp in most respects for the masses. If you have a special need in your computing world that Vista has trampled all over, then make a switch or stay with xp. As for the millions of everyday Windows users, Vista makes a fine operating system. As long as you are getting it by default with a new pc. However saying that, Vista isn’t exactly expensive compared to buying xp.

Vista is fine.

Btw, for those of you who got this far, you might be thinking I am some kind of Vista or Microsoft fanboy.

Well I’m not, I run Linux, and am typing this on Slackware Linux now, I don’t use Vista or xp very often, though I do have them both. The reason I wrote this is simple. I am sick of the sheep, the crowd followers and the idiots who slag everything off because some die hard OSS user who they think is cool does so too or whoever else. Or because they hate Microsoft full stop over and despite anything that they actually create that is good they stick by their irrational opinions.

Why KDE4 doesn’t work for me

January 15, 2008

So this morning I spent a couple of hours backing everything up from my Kubuntu installation to my backup internal hard drive so that I could get rid of it. Kubuntu that is.

Why you may ask. Well it’s KDE4 and wanting a 64bit OS. Why not KDE4 and why 64bit? I’ll tell you.

I liked KDE3 a lot. It was clean, simple to use and highly customisable. But as always I like to upgrade to the most current available release of everything. (I even have Hardy Heron installed somewhere). But version 4 of KDE simply doesn’t do it for me. It’s rough and buggy, though I could live with that until upgrades and patches happened. I just don’t like the direction it’s taking. I don’t like the new menu layout, or the desktop icon layout. There are plenty of other things too that aren’t aesthetic like the way the desktop seems to be bullet proof when it comes to arranging icons or copying and pasting. The desktop is the home of most of my in use files, as wrong as that may be. So I’m sorry Kubuntu, I don’t like the new interface at all, and even when the bugs are ironed out you are still going to look the same give or take, it’s goodbye and hello to Gnome / Ubuntu.

Ok, I could have uninstalled KDE and installed Gnome but I really had to go for a new 64bit install of Ubuntu to address the problems with Ram recognition. My 6gig of ram is now showing as just under 5, which is better than the under 3gig in 32bit installs. Remind me that I need to invest in a new MB.

So after the reinstall I am perfectly happy again. Smooth clean interface and one I like. There are issues that need to be resolved after install to do with multimedia in Firefox, but those are taken care of relatively easily.

Thumbs up to Ubuntu, I know why it’s the most popular install on the Home Desktop Linux environment atm.