Monday, November 12, 2007

The obligatory Vista review..

OK,OK, so this site is called CPUBBQ, and I have yet to "barbeque" a CPU, or even review one. But to be honest, "SoftwareBBQ" makes no sense and/or sounds too geeky, so here we are.

Anyway the dead horse I am flogging today is called "Microsoft VISTA".

Installation was easy. Having tried every version of Windows ever, and many versions of other software, I have to say that this all went pretty smooth.

Having some kind of underlying requirement for my desktop to look as awesome as possible (I blame my childhood), I went straight for Aero, but how do I turn it on? I could see it was sort of on, since when I used "Alt TAB", I got the (not)3D effect of the windows being presented in trimetric elevation and looking a bit cool, also some of the window headings, which were sort of transparent, but that was about it. I looked around a bit more, then ALOT more and found out I was already using Aero and THATS IT!, like what???

All these people that have been talking about "Aero eye candy", like it was Jessica Alba, mixed with a ferrari, and talking like the chick out of Max Headroom, and that was it???, It was more like a mix of FoxNews, A book on flower arangement, and one of those clothing labels that say "Don't remove this label".

In six years we have come from XP to this?, and all those stupid Hardware requirements. Where is the 3D desktop? (I mean actual 3D - you know - DEPTH!) not just lame rotating jpgs et al.

The Inane messages;
We all know and loved the crazy old message we used to get from windows, such as "The thesaurus is not in the thesaurus" and "That font is not available, do you want to use it anyway?". There was a smug satisfaction in the fact that the messages were a bit crosseyed, and windows was'nt really sure what was going on, but was sort of muddling through, like the old guy at the petrol station, not quite sure how the cash register works.

Welcome to the bad new days;

I know that someone invloved with "Clippy" was involved with this. I can't prove it, I don't need to. Evil stupidity like this never happens in the same place twice by chance.

It seems like they have been moved from MS office to the operating system, and rather than sitting on their laurels with that all time low (Clippy), got a Kanga hammer and started digging.

Why is it bad? firstly unlike the crazy messages we used to get with Windows, this one is completely intentional, and thereby berift of anything but the most dark ironic humour.

Secondly; having shown people how to use computers for over 20 years, I know, that you never tell them that anything they can type (or click) will "damage" the computer. Yes they may delete data, but they are far more likely to do so if they are terrified of the machine.

I was trying to think just how a mouse could "... potentially damage your computer...", and realised that the only way you could "damage a computer" with a mouse, would be to open up the case and smash the innards with the mouse repeatedly,
holding it by the cord for extra effect, and maybe in slow motion with the soundtrack to 2001 a Space Odyssey playing in the background. like the scene with the Ape and the bones.....

The fact that the testers were aware that the operating system could cause this kind of cro-magnon regression on the users, shows at least that they have tested it, and were aware, at least sub-consciously, of what it could cause a person to do. Although the message would probably be more accurate if it said at the bottom "Messages like this may potentially cause you to smash your computer to bits!", but maybe thats where the legal department got involved.

I won't bore you with the further examples of this, but they are repeated to a point worth mentioning, that if you had'nt already been going to "...potentially smash your machine to bits..", you were now "..potentially going to throw it out the window..".

More of the same - only different.
Imagine if you got a new car that was exactly like your old car (but slower), the paint looked a bit nicer and all the controls looked the same, but did different things. So the gearstick was now the brake, the clutch was now the accelerator. The changes made no real ergonomic sense, they were made more becasue the designers had run out of ideas rather than had any good ones.

I think what everyone seems to have lost sight of, is that an operating system is a means to an end, and the ideal one should be invisible. Getting an Operating system for its own sake has always seemed a bit stupid, and getting one that gets in the way of everything else is a multi level exercise in counter productivity.
Microsoft have a long way to go to fix this mess...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gigabyte iRam

OK Lets get this straight.

The Gigabyte iRam is the single most effective performance boost you can give your PC.

There are problems with it no doubt, but the rewards are immense. see the attached video...

In case you did'nt catch that, the computer shutdown, restarted and rebooted, all in about 25 seconds, while running windows XP. The operating system itself booted in about 7 seconds, and was available immediately. Admitedly this is probably a "cut down" version of XP, but you get the idea.

What is it?
The Gigabyte iRam (Also often called the Giga-byte GC-RAMDISK) is a PCI card which is used like a Hard Disk. No data passes down the PCI bus, which is only used for power. The iRam poses as an (up to) 4GB Hard Disk and is plugged into the motherboard via a SATA cable. This makes it very easy to install and use, since no drivers are necessary.
To the operating system, it appears simply as a very fast hard disk.

can only take 4GB of RAM.
RAM speed only same as PC200 RAM (although that is still miles quicker than the SATA bus can handle).
SATA 150Mbps only.
quite bulky for a PCI card.
data held will be lost after 16 hours without power.
Some versions of Linux don't support it due to its "odd" disk structure; this is always changing so check your distro version first.

Clean boot within 30 seconds on an average XP system (installed on the iRAM)
Massively improves performance, even if just used for the XP swap file.
Machine seems "snappier" even when doing things that would not seem to invlove much disk IO (like web browsing).
Machine does'n t go off on apparently random harddisk thrashings all the time, like XP is prone to do.
It is completely silent.

The next version?...
Gigabyte have been talking about the iRAM2 for a long time (over three years now). The supposed improvements include; up to 8GB storage (DDR2), SATA 2 (300Mbps), 5.25 inch drive bay model (cd bay) using ATX(molex) power (saves the PCI slot).
Personally I got sick of waiting for the next version to come out and I bought the first and am very glad I did.

Giga-byte have just recently released the iRAM Box, which is the same as the iRAM, except it is CD tray mountable. This still leaves room for improvement.

Ten things wrong with windows

OK, here it is, the first list. I was hoping it would not be negative, but there you go.
Here is a list of ten things that really bug me about windows that have never really have been fixed.

Especially for security. They don't work. They will never stop the zero day exploit, or pretty much any other exploit. If they were going to work, they would have by now (5 damn years we have been updating XP, and there are still serious holes every month) one assumes that most of them have been around for most of that 5 years. If you think it does work, I suggest you try putting a brand new fully up to date windows machine on the internet without a firewall for a couple of hours and see what happens. I suggest you format it afterwards. There are some serious estimates that up to a quarter of all the windows machines in the world are compromised in a serious way (ie someone is able to surruptitiously control it). If windows was secure by design, none of this would be an issue.Some people may contest this point, or this whole concept... read this..... in particular #3 "penetrate and patch"Good quotes...."Unless your system was supposed to be hackable then it shouldn't be hackable."" I've tried using Windows XP Pro's Program Execution Control but it's oriented toward "Enumerating Badness" and is, itself a dumb implementation of a dumb idea. "

2. CD ROM support.
How about this for a feature, when I put a CD in the drive, it HANGS the operating system, until it has completed reading the Index!!. Hard drives stop responding. Network stops responding. Applications hang - on the momentus uncommon event of inserting a CD in the CD drive!!. Even worse, if the CD is unreadable, it starts crashing everything. Explorer hangs, Network hangs, mouse stops responding. It's like a Marx brothers movie, except its your data getting cake thrown in its face, and your time being wasted. It also stops being amusing after the third time. Although I hope that after reading this, next time you use a CD in a windows machine, you will see how truly funny it is that this OS can't correctly handle the wordwide standard data medium. (Don't get me started on the Autorun debacle - Sony rootkit anyone?) This was just lousy programming when windows 95 did it 12 years ago, and CDs were still a bit of a novelty. Now it just shows they don't give a damn. No excuse such as "bus mastering " or "DMA blah blah" is even slightly acceptable after 12 years. If you can explain it, you could have fixed it by now. Still a nasty feature on Vista - thanks MS

3. Network share unavailable.
OK so a share on the network that was available yesteray, is not there today. DEAL WITH IT!. Don't Hang the operating system. you arent running any software from it. It is not an unusual event. It is a common normal event that happens often everyday in a normally functioning network. Unfortunatley so is windows hanging. Still a nasty feature on Vista - thanks MS

4. Windows Driver Search.
Don't offer to go on the web to look for an appropriate driver if you have no intention of doing so. I have never found a driver for by using that option. It is just a waste of time for everyone involved. This may be fixed in Vista. but that still has to be proven properly.

5. Hordes of anonymous processes.
WTF are all those apps??? no really, I DON'T want to know. Just get rid of them. Why is my computer running 25 different apps simultaneously?, and I haven't even installed anything yet!. And give them a name. "svchost.exe" never meant much to people who knew what it meant. When repeated, it means hardly anything. If you don't deem it important enough to have a name, why should I deem it important enough to run on my computer.

6. Just Shut Down!.
You aren't a server. We both know you have no open files. You are running no apps (that I have started) just shut down. Now. not in two minutes. Don't claim to be "saving your settings" like you are somehow shifting the blame onto Me. Shut up and shut down!. I had a bet with a colleague once that I would just close my apps, then literally pull the power plug out of my computer, and he would patiently carefully and studiously shut down windows, and answer all the stupid, redundant, retarded questions it asks. He said my PC would become unusable after a couple of weeks. After six months HIS PC became unstable (probably for other reasons), and mine was running fine. I actually lasted another 3 months, before I was issued a new PC.

7. Fix that crummy firewall.
In 2003, Windows XP SP1 brought windows kicking and screaming into the nineties with a firewall. Of course it would not have been necessary if the OS had been more secure than a supermarket in Sierra Leone during a looting riot, but thats another story. How about it blocks outgoing as well as incoming traffic. Personally, Like just about everyone else in the western world, I have a hardware firewall. What I need the operating system to do is alert me when something is trying to get out. To do this you need a third party firewall, I always have it completely block Internet Explorer from getting out. Its amazing how often Kerio catches it trying to sneak out.

8. DOS Prompt.

The DOS prompt has not changed since Windows NT. where is the coloured text? here is the transparent windows. This is one area windows SERIOUSLY needs to to start copying from Linux.

9. Pop ups (and pop-up blockers).
We have all been duped with this one. Although I probably recommend pop-up blockers, think about it for a minute how stupid MS must think we are that they give us a pop-up blocker, rather than removing the pop-up feature from IE.This is like James Bond tying a rope around his car ejector seat so it won't go off. If you don't want it, remove it. Don't put another program in to stop it working - thats just plain crazy. Of course anyone who has used any pop-up blocker knows they don't work all the timeAs I mentioned before, the best way to block pop-ups, is to use something like Crazy browser, completely block IE from the internet (notice you can't use windows Firewall to do this)

10. JAVA
You have to feel for Sun, in that Microsoft has gone out of their way to stop java from working.But C'mon! it has been how many years? surely they can write a decent Runtime Environment by now.Even the most simple apps (and I mean really simple) can bring a powerful modern computer to its knees, just getting apps started is a demonstration of how software should'nt run, with a seemingly insatiable requirement to update itself, and a series of meaningless, hysterical security warnings. Even the fundamentals have been forgotten, as no two java apps seem to be able to run at the same time on the same PC.User unfriendly, unstable and resource hungry. Its mystifying control panels (that won't bloody go away). It actually makes Lotus Notes look good (and thats REALLY saying something).I really feel sorry for programmers who have slaved away to program something which will always be sluggish and annoying thanks to this terrible product.

Ten Great pieces of Free software

Ten Great pieces of Free software

These aren't in any order (how would you compare a graphic viewer to a file utility?).
These are really good examples and worth a look, and if you think they are really good, them give em' your money :)

CPUBBQ.COM has no affiliations with anyone, we get nothing for refering to any of these sites - they all earned it already by making great software. We will only start using ads if we start blowing out our monthly bandwidth limit, or I lose my job, in which case this will become a porno site with agressive pop-up windows and exploit launched viruses attempting to bilk any credit card numbers from your hard drive, before I make a dash to the Ukraine to live with my spamgang buddies (where I will probably end up being accidently shot after a hard night of vodka drinking and AK47 brandishing)
anyway, back to reality....

1. SeqoiaViewHard disk file utility
Whether you are trying to free up some space on your hard drive or just want a great visualisation of the data structure of your disk, this is for you.Its ability to help you instantly find what is taking up space on your hard drive, is sublime.The way the little blocks that represent your files all add up to exactly the size of your partition is fascinating.Anyone who enjoys watching a graphic disk defragger move data blocks around the disk will love this.

2. IrfanviewGraphic file viewer/editor
So simple and so useful. Want to resize, rotate, change format, convert, crop a graphic file or bunch of files? This is it. I don't know how anyone can use a digital camera without this program. It is so slick and intuitive it seems simpler than most applications that have nowhere near the power it does. I don't even bother installing software from camera manufacturers anymore. I have never seen anything come close to Irfanview.

3. Real Alternative.
If you have used a computer for more than 5 years, you will probably have encountered RealMedia and the various nasty incarnations of its software.I don't need to say anything more than - "its a free, ad free, bug free alternative to RealPlayer, that just works". After using Real Alternative, you will never think of using Real Player again.

4. Quicktime Alternative.
Sorry Apple. I'm not going to pay $50 per upgrade of your ad spewing, cult of Mac, overdesigned, under intuitive Quicktime product, just so I can watch .mov files in Full Screen. Don't get me wrong, I love apple, and the next machine I get will be a mac of some kind, but somewhere around 2005, (probably when iTunes and Quicktime became locked together) I found I just could'nt stand either Quicktime or iTunes anymore. To put files on an iPod use Yamipod. To play MP3s on your PC, use 1by1, for editing and prepping Mp3s, use MP3tag.

5. YamipodiPod file transfer utility
Afraid to plug your iPod into your friends PC, because iTunes threatens to format it?Want to copy files to AND FROM your iPod?not perfect yet, but always improving.Easy to use.

6. CDexMP3 (or whatever) encoder
Open source (yay!), fast, simple.

7. 1by1PC MP3 player

8. MP3tag MP3 tagger
Put proper tags on your MP3s.Add images, fix up the album names and other info in your MP3 library.I did'nt realise how good this was til I started really using it. Its ability to help you get the correct info out of the filenames and into the tags (or vice versa) is incredible.

9. DaemonTools
Virtual CD/DVD drive software

10. microTorrent Torrent Downloader
Similar in many ways to Azureus, but without a few of the features, and without the usual Java nightmare, (no Java, I don't want to update your updater now).It is basically one file that runs, so almost no installation is required.It does what you need it to and gets out of your way when its finished.So many programs should be this way that are'nt.

New Homepage.

Hi Everyone.

I'll keep this brief since you should'nt really care.
I got bored of trying to build the perfect website from scratch rather putting out the good articles I know I can.
Lets say I was getting sidetracked trying to build a deep fryer rather than selling doughnuts.
Anyway I am now moving everything to blogspot until I become proficient in the ways of dreamweaver / .
My testing team (Me and a couple of sock puppets) have told me they like it already.
It was always my aim to a create new article up every week. Maybe now I can achieve that.
For what it's worth, blogspot is a great/easy/cheap way to get a web page up and running. If anyone tells you they want a website, but knows nothing about anything, send them to blogspot (they'll need a gmail account).

This is all still work in progress..

I'm going to fix up the logo and colour scheme and all that unused space in the middle.

Just for posteritym heres a pic of the site on the evning it was set up.

OK enjoy.