Friday, April 27, 2007

Days One and Two with Vista Basic 64 bit

I'll be fair: all of the information I had about Windows Vista was gleaned from the internet, or gathered by looking over the shoulder of someone who was playing with a beta release. I saw the Apple ads joking about 'Allow or deny' and heard the horror stories about performance. But I chose to purchase Vista anyhow, mostly because I bought my computer to play video games and while this might not be the platform of choice today, I have little doubt that it will be tomorrow.

What I am trying to say is that I am neither a Microsoft fan boy, nor a hater. I have a certain tolerance for some things and less patience for others when it comes to computer systems. The actual version I purchased, by the way, is the OEM version of Windows Vista Home Basic 64 bit. I chose 64 bit because the processors I purchased are also 64 bit - it made sense to me at the time, although now I am finding that some (many?) programs are only supported in 32 bit mode.

Silly me. I thought this was going to be a linux only problem.

Day One
I pick up the computer after work and have some furniture shuffling to do before I can get the computer hooked up. Also, there is a hockey game on TV, so progress is slowed. Still, I manage to get things plugged together and boot into Vista for the first time. I poke around a little, download Firefox and Google Talk and then quit for the night because it is late. During the download and install, I do notice the double confirm as Windows Defender asks if I really meant to download this file, and again during the install of these applications. I choose to leave Defender enabled as is, with the reasoning that installing stuff is not a constant activity.

Day Two
Last night there was no hockey game (that I cared about) but we did have some running around to do, so once again I only had about an hour to spend on the computer. This is about what I expected since we are also still unpacking and stuff. My goal was to install anti virus software - my internet connection provides me with a branded version of F-prot which is a product I like and getting it for free made it better. I happily filled out the download form (account number and a few other bits) and then downloaded the file. (allow this file to be downloaded? yes) However, when I attempted to install, the installer bailed out saying that my OS was not supported. This is where the 64 bit question raised it's ugly head - when are software vendors going to get around to supporting CURRENT hardware and software? Anyway, thanks to a friend I downloaded a different anti virus program that was also free and that happened to work just fine on vista 64 bit. Mission accomplished. Oh, I also managed to install Nero software for burning discs as well as things like flash and adobe reader.

I have noticed two things: the first thing is that things boot much faster than before. I do not know if this is due to the hardware, the OS or a bit of both, but it boots from a cold start to ready to use in less than 10 seconds. The second thing is that I really like the gadgets. Yes, it is a blatant ripoff of Apple's widgets. There is a long standing tradition between Apple and Microsoft as each rips off the best of the other's designs, and I the consumer am okay with it. So far, my experience has not been as hellish as the various blogs lead me to expect.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

iTripped 2.0

I have finally moved out of the computing stone age. I'm not exactly post-modern, but must at least be into the age of Industrialization. What am I talking about? I finally upgraded my antique computer.

For those who know me, you understand that my purchasing decisions tend to be price driven - that is to say, I'm all about not spending too much money.

The place I bought my computer at is called Anitec and while I cannot speak to the reliability of the product or how well they do at servicing (I just got it yesterday) I can say that unlike other local computer stores, this one has a much more professional showroom. In some ways it was like Best Buy or Futureshop, although I would say that the format was reversed. What I mean is in the big box stores, there is a lot of space dedicated to showing pre-configured systems ready for purchase, and a small area at the back where you can buy components. At Anitec, a store that caters to computing enthusiasts, the format is to have about half a dozen pre-built systems on display near the front of the store, and then about two thirds of the area set up to showcase the various components available.

The important difference here is that the store is well lit, clean and uncluttered. It feels professional - like they are probably going to still be in business a year or two from now. I realize this is no way to judge such things - the point I am trying to make is that this store had the same feel of permanence that the big box stores do, as compared to the independent computer shop tucked away between the pizza parlour and the dry cleaner.

Let's just hope that the same attention to detail went into the building of my computer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Me playing beach volleyball?

Well technically this is NOT a picture of me playing beach volleyball. But that is only because I am the one taking the picture. Shortly after taking this shot, it was my turn to serve - and a moment after that, I was diving into the sand to return a spike.

What is going on here is that we put a team together at work and we now compete in an amateur league not far from the office. That is the Cambie Street bridge in the background.

So far, we have only played 'non-official' games. This Monday should be the first time that we play against opposing teams in games that will count toward a final ranking (or whatever scoring system is used). So at that point I expect things will start to get a bit more competitive, with more of us putting our faces into the sand.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vancouver Sun Run

This is what Georgia Street looked like last Sunday morning. Over fifty thousand gathered to participate in the Vancouver Sun Run, an annual race that promotes health and fitness.

The usual problems associated with such a large crowd were there (waiting almost an hour to start the race, walkers being seeded up front, people with strollers and/or dogs) but despite that, the event was still a lot of fun and the city had the streets cleaned up again surprisingly fast (ie. that same day). I did not encounter one person who was in the run that was not having a good time - everyone was happy and friendly - at least everyone I met.

My race was a walk - quite literally. Even as such, I did manage to complete it in about 84 minutes. The last time I was in it, I went with my buddy Eric and pushed myself too fast - and ended up limping half way through the race because of it. Of course, since this year had me out late the night before at a friend's housewarming party, I did need a lengthy nap after the race. At least I was well behaved enough not to suffer from a hangover though.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about this race is the many bands that get to play trackside. While waiting to start we were entertained by the Neurotics as well as 10 Souljers. There must have been about a dozen other bands scattered along the course, each tirelessly performing for the racers. Hearing a steel band playing under the Granville St. bridge instead of steady traffic gave Vancouver a whole new atmosphere, and I loved it. By the time I finished the race, my legs were a little tired, but my mood was pretty good. BC Place stadium was open for the crowd of racers and I am sure that every one of them paused to take a good look at the roof that ripped earlier this year before proceeding to the tables with fresh oranges.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Office Go-Karting adventure

So my office arranged an after-hours activity - we were to go racing go-karts on an indoor track. The event was scheduled, the venue was selected, the hype and testosterone started early. All of us selected fake driver names, then carpooled over to the track and excitedly waited our turn.

Our group was kind of large, so we were split into two groups of about 7 drivers. Group one would drive for 3 minutes, then group two would drive. This alternated until both groups had 3 sessions on the track. The really fun part of this was that while the other group was driving, we were able to watch them from a catwalk that straddled the track.

During the first race, I figured I would test the limits of the field operator - we were told not to crash into the other drivers, but each car was equipped with this handy bumper that went completely around the car. I figured that a few bumps to get past someone should be fine, and if not, the operator would surely flag me and I would settle down. Instead, what happened is the operator flagged another one of the drivers. So I merrily caused mayhem unabated for the duration of that race.

I must say, that was a good time.

During our second race, the operator was no longer confused. Instead of flagging me, he hopped into a car, and started driving agressively against me - ramming my car, etc. If the intended effect was to get me to settle down, it didn't really work right away. My first reaction was 'this operator is awesome! I really like driving against him!' But after a lap or two I finally took the hint and decided to settle down.

For the third and final race, I planned to be a polite driver. No bumping other cars (even if they slammed on the brakes in a corner, which did happen a few times.) As luck would have it, I managed to get a lot of time on the track where I was not faced with traffic. But the damage was already done. Even though I avoided every car during that outing, I was already branded the track villian. Lucky for me, nobody was really taking me seriously and it was all in good fun.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Big screen entertainment

One thing is for sure - our cats are much happier in the new location. There is a sofa directly in front of the main window AND a heat register below it. So they get to sit and stare out the window on the comfortable (and heated) sofa. The food and water bowls are mere steps away.

Recent polls indicate that overall satisfaction is at an all-time high, yet participant comments indicate there is still room for improvement (ie. house is still dog-infested, mandatory confinement at night reduces opportunities to scrounge in the kitchen, that sort of stuff.)

To add to the excitement, a robin has recently decided to build a nest in our patio area. This is what the two cats are staring at so intently. Since they are indoor cats, it should provide days of amusement for them without the robin getting it's feathers ruffled.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sights on my commute home

I took this photo while waiting for the seabus to arrive. This tugboat was turning around to get ready to push out a barge full of dirt. I assume this is part of the effort to expand the area for the Olympic Village but don't really know for sure.

As you can see, we are out of monsoon season in Vancouver. The forecast for Friday has temperatures as high as 22 degrees celsius, which is quite nice for this time of the year. Hopefully the whole weekend will be like that.