the family wiki

I’m surprised about this. I’ve been posting on Twitter and Facebook how I was installing the Confluence at home and several people specifically asked me if I would blog about it. After running everything for a week, I’m finally ready to put it up.

So, what is a wiki (from wikipedia):

wiki (pronounced /ˈwɪki/ WIK-ee) is a website that allows the easy[1] creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages, using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor, within the browser.[2][3] Wikis are typically powered by wiki software. Wikis are often used to createcollaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

We have used one at work for years and it’s an important tool for documentation and for keeping important things for a group out of someone’s email box. I’ve gotten to rely on it.  My wife has been working with a company and keeping notes on a running Word doc, and I’ve been really wanting to set up a wiki for at home.  The challenge was that I don’t think my wife is willing to learn wiki markup language while trying to work, so I needed something that was as easy to edit and create as Word is.  At work we’ve used Confluence, which is an enterprise class wiki.

What is Confluence?

Confluence is a simple, powerful wiki that lets you create and share pages, documents and rich content with your team.

If you’re looking for a better way to collaborate, Confluence has the essential enterprise features for your organisation.

But wait, you say… isn’t enterprise class software expensive?  Right, yes… you are correct.  But the company that makes Confluence offers a license that is palatable for the home users; they offer a 10 user license for $10 a year! You can’t beat that!

the setup

As you may or may not know from previous posts, I have an old FreeBSD box and a VMWare ESXi server on an old Dell 1850 in the basement. I created a new VM using CentOS 5.4.  I installed the latest JRE / Jaa from Sun on it and took off. It didn’t work out so smoothly. Here’s what I did to get everything working.

  • I had to upgrade MySQL on my FreeBSD host to the latest to match the version of the JDBC driver onon the VM/Confluence server.
  • I had to add an option to my MySQL startup so that I was able to update plugins.
    • mysql_args=”–max_allowed_packet=32M”
  • By default, Confluence comes with a version of Tomcat and runs by default on port 8080. I used my router to remap that to 8000 so I had a modicum of extra security. http://my.wiki.com:8000/ <- nope, that ain’t really it!

So if you come any errors with your Confluence plugins, check this option for you mysqld.

now we’re running

So now we are running. Here’s what I did:

  • Created a space for me, my wife, and our family.
  • Created a user group for our family, and a group for the people she’s working with so I can get granular with the permissions
  • Created a space for our family
    • Confluence has a plugin for Google Calendars. We have a family Google Calendar which now displays in the family space.
    • I also have an RSS feed for local weather and news

lessons learned

  • Make sure ALL your versions match up
  • If you are using IE8, to get the rich text editor, make sure you use Compatibly Mode.
  • Have patience with your users. It’s a different way to think about documentation and collaboration.
  • Be very helpful. Comment on the other spaces in positive ways.
  • Learn the macros!
  • Learrn about RSS
  • TAG/LABEL all your posts!
  • Every user must create “their personal space” for blog or news posts. <- allows quick-hit posts!

The performance on the VM is great. In fact it is better than I anticipated. If you were hard pressed you could probably run everything on a single host for just a family.  I love being able to display our Google Family calendar, (you can not edit it).

the result

We use it.  It is really handy and as long as we use it and it’s easy to edit and collaborate, we are in business. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, let me know!

Windows 7 is pretty slick…

Nothing fancy to see here, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions around Windows 7. I figured I’d answer them. I recently attended a Microsoft event here in Atlanta where they handed out full copies of Windows 7 Ultimate. They handed out the 32bit version but I can verify that the same key will work on the 64bit version.

Q. Do you like Windows 7?

A. I love it.  I can honestly say that “it just works!”

Q. Why do you like it?

A. Well, at work I use a Mac, and I know it sounds cliche to say that Windows 7 is very Mac-like, but it is.

Q. Will it work with my system?

A. My PC is best a “franken-puter” that I’ve rebuilt and upgraded parts of it over the years.  Not only do I see a impressive performance improvement, I have yet to manually install any drivers.  Win7 found ’em all. So yeah, I’m willing to bet it will certainly work with your system.

Q. Can you get me a copy?

A. Alas, no.  But if I get some more Google wave invites, I might be able to hook you up with that.

Q. Are you using Antivirus? If so, what do you use?

A. Yes, I am using Anti-virus. You’d be nuts not to.  I am personally using Avast.

Q. Are you aware of anything that doesn’t work with Win7?

A. Yes, I know of a few things that don’t work.  Mainly the only thing I really want to use is VMWare’s VI client.  It will not run under Windows 7, or at least the version I’m using.  I’ll check for an update after I finish this post.

Q. I heard you have to format and reinstall if you are upgrading from WinXP? Is that true?

A. Yes, it is, and you know what? I am SO glad I decided to take the plunge.  I backed up all my users Documents and Settings using the WinXP back up utility and was able to restore them and I am so glad I did. Remember, I said my computer have been rebuilt and upgraded many times. Starting “fresh” allowed me to eliminate a bunch of crap and set some things right.  No regrets! Just plan for it and you’ll be in good shape.

Q. What else have you installed on your “new” system?

A. Since I started fresh, I have installed only stuff that I need. I’ll continue to install stuff as I need ’em, but here’s what I installed so far:

If you got other questions, please let me know! I’m sorry I didn’t have a more catchy post title.

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

Or

Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

How I manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc

First, this is not going to be an article on how to make money with Twitter, social networking, or Facebook.  This is simply a post about how I’ve recently came to peace with managing my virtual life.

why?

Good question.  Let’s face it, in this day and age, when anyone wants to find out more information about you, they’ll hit Google and put in your name.  As a I hiring manager, I would hope any potential employee I’m interested in is involved and engaged in some online community.  As a potential hire, I am proud of the work and contributions I’ve made to the Internet at large, and I would hope to stand out against my competition.  If I ever decide to look for job in the future, look at the great network I have to work with.

It’s also fun! I don’t need to bore you with examples of friends I got back in touch with, or how my current position I got through networking.  I’d rather share examples about new friends I’ve made, many of which I’ve never physically met, but we’re connected to each other in other ways.

It’s a great resource!  I am sure many of you have had an experience where you said something on Twitter and then a company spokesperson, or someone you didn’t know offered help.  A couple of months ago, I tweeted some things about the book “Visible Ops Handbook” and I started tweeting back and forth with the authors, who were really nice and helpful.  How cool that I can connect with an author of book that really helped me!

The future knows no limits!  Let’s just say, that one day I might get tired of being in IT Operations and I want to social media or product development instead? It could happen.  And if I wanted to reach out to get inspiration and encouragement I got a place to go, and one never knows where my connections could lead me.  Who knows, maybe you really can make millions on Twitter, (although… for the record, I seriously doubt it).

what?

Okay, of course I use Twitter and I love being able to integrate with Facebook.  I also started using twitterfeed and tonight I just started using HootSuite.  Sure, I also use the other usual suspects, too. But just not as much:

  • friendfeed
  • Ping.Fm
  • Bright Kite
  • FourSquare
  • CoTweet
  • Plaxo
  • plurk
  • LinkedIn
  • Brazen Careerist

I’ll explain how these tie in later.

how?

Hang with me on this.  This all ends up everywhere, but I’m gonna break it down for you.  Consider this: Twitter essentially feeds everything!

twitter + facebook

This is the first step.  You got your Twitter account, right?  And you’re on Facebook?  Sure, there was a Twitter Facebook app, but as I have evolved with my Twitter usage, (we’ll still get to that), I didn’t want to bombard my Friends on Facebook with everything.  Especially since they can be a different audience.   I saw one of my friends was using a Facebook App called, “Selective Twitter Status.”  The way this works is you just put this hashtag in your Twitter update: #fb

Selective Twitter Status

Then it will be posted on your Facebook profile. If it doesn’t have #fb it won’t be posted on Facebook! By the way, the icon above is a link to the app.

twitterfeed + twitter + bit.ly

Remember I said Twitter is the source?  I started using Twitterfeed to post articles I normally post to Twitter.  Basically, once you create your Twitterfeed account, you subscribe to RSS feeds.  Then if you are willing to try to grok the advanced features, you can really do some cool things.

I have my favorite RSS feeds, set to check hourly, and then post one or two articles.  I don’t want my followers/readers to get burdened with too many automatic posts.  Now here’s the secret sauce! In the Advanced Options, I can prepend something.  So if I want it to go to Twitter and Facebook, I simply tell it to append #fb to the post.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about bit.ly you ask? bit.ly allows you to shorten URL’s, which is critical to keep under the 140 character limit for Twitter.  Now, if you actually take the time and go sign up for a bit.ly account, you get some cool things like a handy dashboard and your very own bit.ly API key!  You can do all sorts of cool things with this if you use TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Twitterfeed, etc.  You will be able to see what’s getting the most bang for your buck.  I can now see how many of my followers are clicking on my shortened URL’s and adjust accordingly.  Remember, I don’t want to flood my followers/readers so they’ll unfollow/unfriend me.

posterous.com -> twitter + facebook

This is one of the cooler sites that integrate with Twitter, I believe.  I would consider it a supplemental blogging site.  It’s not my main blog and it isn’t something I post to all the time.  Rather, it’s something I use to post cool news articles I come across in my daily Internet journeys. I have it set up that posterous.com posts both to Twitter and Facebook, so I don’t use the #fb here.  You can see my Posterous here, if you want:

http://jpabian.posterous.com/

what about ping.fm?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome! But I went to relying on my apps posting to the various sites as opposed as letting a single place do it.  I started having too many double posts on my sites, so I figured with a little trial and error, I could make it less annoying for my readers/followers.

other tools?

I use Twitterberry on my Blackberry.  I love how easy it is to fire off an update.  I also have UberTwitter on my Blackberry, but don’t use it too much.

I use Twidroid on my T-Mobile G1.  It’s much better than it was when it first came out. It’s a full functioning Twitter client.

On my Mac, I used TweetDeck and just went to Seesmic.

On my WinXP desktop, Adobe Air has an issue, and Tweetdeck and Seesmic won’t work, but Twirl does.  You just got to remember to use the #fb hashtag.

As I mentioned, I started using HootSuite.  It allows you to schedule tweets.  For example, my wife, @lilyan is going to be on the Today Show on 9/21/2009 at 8:30 so I want to be able to tweet about it to remind our friends.  I schedules several Tweets over the next few days to remind people, and I did include the #fb hashtag.

that’s it?

Yes, for now.  But I am always looking and trying new and different tools.  But the way I’m doing it now is pretty manageable and is working well for me.

You have questions or suggestions?  I would love to hear them so send them along!

Thanks!

Samsung BD-P1590 is a big stinkeroni

apologies

Look, I feel really bad about this.  I usually don’t complain about product on my blog, but this has really gotten me worked up. I’ll also provide a quick review.

the good

Our old, progressive scan DVD player gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.  I have been lobbying for a Sony PS3 but haven’t been able to get “executive approval” for the purchase, so when Costco had a deal on the Samsung BD-P1590, we got the green light to pick it up.  At first glance, it has some nice features:

  • Pandora support
  • Youtube
  • Blockbuster
  • Netflix
Don't buy it.

Don't buy it.

My Dad has the Samsung 2550 and it was pretty cool.  We liked the Pandora and Netflix integration so at this price, it looked pretty good.

the bad

We bought the unit, brought it home, and I began hooking it up.  First off, it doesn’t have COAX out.  It’s either standard RCA jacks or TOSlink out.  I had to rewire the Xbox.

But once I got it hooked up, the first thing it wanted to do was upgrade the firmware.  A guy we talked to at Costco said he upgraded the day before and he said it was good.  Once it rebooted, I popped in my Pink Floyd concert DVD and it looked great, (I don’t have any Blu-ray, yet).

pink_floyd_pulse

Then we signed up for Pandora and Netflix.  Pandora sounded great!  It was tickling my subwoofer and sounded really good.  Then we ate dinner and I heard the unit beep and it powered off.  I guess it shuts down if it is idle.

Then, when you hit the power button, the display says “LOAD” and that’s it. I can open and close the tray but nothing else.  I tried the various ways I’ve found to “reset” the unit, and none of them worked.

I found an “offical” forum over at CNET:

Samsung 2009 Blu-ray Player Firmware Update Available Now

by blu-ray chic Samsung staff – 9/3/09 10:06 AM

All, 
Firmware has been posted today for 09 models. (other models to follow, please be patient).
I’m in the process of updating my players and will share the results when I’m through. However, please feel free to use this thread to report any issues with your upgrades, findings, thoughts, etc…
When you post your info, please be sure to let us know how you upgraded (USB, CD, Network) and any pertinent details. 

IMPORTANT: Please note the launch of our new website. The download center is currently not showing f/w details such as what’s been corrected or worse, what file type is which. 
If you have a network connection, this is the easiest way to update. Simply turn the power on and wait a moment before you receive a notification for the new firmware. 
If you choose to use CD or USB updates, the first one listed is the USB update. The second which ends in ISO is the disc update. These updates need to be installed only once, not twice like the first update. However, if you’ve never updated your player, you may need to install the update twice. Again, please share your findings with us all. Thanks for your participation! 

What should these upgrades address?

A/V sync issues
Title compatibility 
NTP should be defaulted to on after reset or power failure
Error msg “your Netflix Keys have been hacked”
And finally – to provide Blockbuster and YouTube support.. (crossing fingers that I haven’t spoken too soon)

As soon as I get the final details I’ll let ya’ll know.

Best of luck to you all! ;)

And according to the thread, I am not the only one with a bricked unit.  Again, I am one not to bitch, but this was OUT OF THE box and we got to enjoy for less than 15 minutes.  Seriously, I will spend more time in the car taking it back then the amount of time we got to use it.

the rub

And here’s the rub.  If I was to exchange it at Costco, ANY replacement Samsung BD-P1590 I get is probably subject to the same fate.  I did nothing special or weird to my unit.

If you were me, what would you do?

G1 Update – training

A couple of things I love about my G1 is that I have been using it as a training aid.  It’s really great.

  • I use it as a stop watch.
  • I use it to map my runs and my rides
  • I use it to listen to streaming audio when I’m outside
  • I use it to collect stats about my routes

The two apps I use the most for training are CardioTrainer and StreamFurious.

CardioTrainer is really slick.  You can choose your various types of workouts, have it report back to you your intervals and pace.  It will overlay your route on Google Maps and when done give you stats like elevation, overall pace, etc.   Then it will upload your route to their website and if you were so inclined, it will put it on your Facebook profile.

Now, while I am running, I could be listening to my mp3’s but what I love to listen to is streaming audio from the web.   Specifically, I enjoy listening to Radio Paradise via Stream Furious.

You can listen to RP using just about any computer audio player, and on a wide variety of other devices, including iPhones, Blackberrys and Windows smartphones. You don’t need to register with us in order to listen, and we don’t charge subscription fees — even for our highest-fidelity streams.Speaking of high fidelity, we pride ourselves on providing some of the best-sounding audio you’ll hear anywhere. Try one of our high quality streams (192k MP3 or 128k AAC) on a good pair of headphones or a decent audio system. We think you’ll be impressed. Several of the world’s most respected audio engineers and producers have given RP’s audio quality an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

How do we do all of this without charging subscription fees or inflicting advertising on you? The key is in those two words underneath our name at the top of the page. We do our very best to keep you entertained, and if we succeed we ask you to send a little support our way. Click theSupport RP link for more information on how that works. You can also send support our way by shopping at our Affiliate Merchants (Amazon, iTunes, and many more) or by buying some of our Shirts & Stuff . Thanks a bunch.

Instead of using the phone’s headset, I use iPod headphones so I don’t have to have the Lose Weight Exercise of the mic bouncing around.

It’s neat to realize that I have this going on my phone while I am out running.

I also started using DailyMile.  I used to use Gyminee, but since I started doing Crossfit, I didn’t have a great way to record my workouts in Gyminee.  So now that I am running regurlary again, I plan on using DailyMile.

Fitness Training Log

So couple my phone with my HRM, (heart rate monitor), I got some really powerful training tools.

return of my G1

The big update

Last night I realized that I hadn’t posted that I had gotten my T-Mobile G1 with Android on it repaired and it’s back in business, baby!  Actually, I hadn’t posted much of anything in some time.

Anyways,  I did get it fixed.  I had the broken LCD replaced by a local shop.  Apparently, most higher end cell phones can be repair.  So I had gotten it back right after Cupcake came out.  After some prodding I decided to go ahead and “root” my G1 and install some custom ROM’s.

Am I glad I did!

rooting

First off, it was really easy.  Second, you can have your apps on your SD card and just go nuts.  I have a 2GB SD card and have made a 600MB partition (using ext3) for apps.

If you are interesting in rooting your G1, here’s where you can get started:

  • Ultimate Guide 2 Root, Recovery, Partition, Radio, SPL, JACHeroski, Tips

If you follow the first three sections, you are on your way to get your custom ROM, (be sure to install the radio, too).  I couldn’t partition my SD card as described so I took the lusers way out and used a Partitioning program to make the following partitions on my SD card:

  • FAT32
  • ext3
  • Linux swap

the roms

If you were able to get through the directions, you are probably ready to install your custom ROM.   There are several to choose from, each with their loyal of armies.  The most popular seem to be:

  • CyanogenMod
  • JACHeroski
  • JesusFreke

There are a couple of others but I don’t have any experience with them.  At first, I used JesusFreke’s ROM, but now I am using Cyanogen’s ROM.

coolness

What I think is cool, is that these ROM’s unlock the true potential of the Android OS.  No one is trying to get something for free to crack the apps.  Rather, they are all adding functionality and features that were not in the original release.  For example, these guys figured out how to get the phone to use linux swap, and then they figured out how to use Linux kernel modules for even better performance.

And yes, I do like my G1 better than the iPhone.  But that’s another post!

inconceivable, yes… impossible, no.

please stop the voices

I’ve posted before about innovation and creativity.  Recent events have brought this back into my daily thoughts and how I continue to try and define myself.  Those are mere details that I don’t want to get into, however I do have some things to share.

you’re not helping

On Twitter, someone tweeted about this incredible post (apologies to you; I can’t find the original tweet):

The Makers of Things

In the late 1800s, the Brooklyn Bridge was built with no power tools, no heavy machinery, and only a basic, evolving understanding of how to make steel. It’s not these facts, but the stories surrounding the facts that inspire me when I take a good, long stare at a suspension bridge. But first…

Rands has quite a following.  I had not seen his blog before but you can bet I’ll be following it.   To me, the message is that despite the impossible, don’t stop trying.  Sure, I over simplified it, but that’s okay.  It’s such a great post, any summation I do would not do the post justice.  Just go read it.

realizations

However, it does help slam some things I’ve been juggling into perspective.  I don’t have or know all the answers, but I am not afraid to try new things and take some lumps, (or teeth marks on my skull) for something I believe in.  Change is scary.  New ideas can seem silly.  The wrong motivation can really crush the spirit.

In preparation of this post, I was trying to come up with a catchy title so I looked up innovation in the thesaurus:

Main Entry: innovation
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: change, novelty
Synonyms: addition, alteration, contraption, cutting edge*, departure, deviation, introduction, last word*, latest thing*, leading edge*, modernism, modernization, modification, mutation, newness, notion, permutation, shift, variation, vicissitude, wrinkle*
Antonyms: custom, habit, old, old hat, rut, tradition

Naturally, the synonyms are all familiar to me, but what was interesting was seeing them in this context.  The synonyms that speak to me are:

  • addition
  • alteration
  • departure
  • deviation
  • introduction
  • leading edge
  • modernism
  • modernization
  • modification
  • mutation
  • newness
  • shift

nuggets

The element that all these words have in common, is “change.”  Could the essential nugget of wisdom of innovation boil down to one thing?  Change?  Yeah, I think it does.

I’m conflicted.  I like to think of myself as an “Agent of Change” but I sure feel like a jerk saying that.   And there are probably people out there who think I’m a jerk for saying it, but the truth is, I do like change.

what about the risk?

But what about risk?  I’m not afraid of the risk of a change or a new idea, what I am shy about, is the risk of exposing myself.  For the most part, I feel like I am confident in who I am, but it’s one thing to pitch my ideas to higher ups or more experienced people in my arena.  It’s a personal risk, for sure, but also it’s pulling back the kimono a bit, right?  It’s exposing myself to someone who could squash my spirit or worse.  So it is risk? Or fear? Or both?

What holds me back?  What holds you back?

Alright, I feel like I am rambling a bit.  I think I went down the rabbit hole.  Anyways, where was I…

Back to innovation.  Whatever word you pick to use to describe it, I’m okay.

vmware esxi @home

I’ve been getting a bunch of emails about the progress I’ve been making on my VMWare ESXi server.  I figured it might merit a post.

So far, I got three VM’s each running CentOS 5.2.  One is a ZenOSS installation, one is a Trixbox installation, and one is a stock linux install that I plan to use for Web and PHP developing.

What’s interesting about the 3rd on, is that I cloned it from a snapshot of the first one.  But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, in answer to most of the questions, I am experience NO problems with my Trixbox install.  Keep in mind, I am using RAID 0 with three 72GB SCSI drives in a Dell 1750.  These are NOT IDE drives.   I noticed no stuttering or voice quality issues.  Second, keep in mind this is for our home and not a busy office.

Interestingly enough, my biggest problem has been power outages.  The power goes off and the box goes down but comes back up.  I don’t know of a way to automatically power on the VM’s or start them from the command line.  If you know, let ME know please!

The second question I get is, how’s my power bill.  Actually, it seems fine.  My wife hasn’t said anything about it being high or abnormal so “mums the word.”

a weekend with Windows 7

I’m pleasantly surprised.

I downloaded the DVD ISO for the Windows 7 beta release.  For some reason, I was really excited that Microsoft was putting out Windows 7 for beta and letting the community take it for a spin.  I have enjoyed playing around with other OS releases such as Fedora and Ubuntu.

I have a Toshiba laptop that’s a year old.  It’s got an AMD Athlon X2 CPU and came with Vista on it.  When I first got it, I put Fedora on it right away.  But I did a dual boot so if I ever needed Vista, it was there.  I played around with Vista and even though I never bashed it like others did, I liked it okay.  Coming from WinXP to Vista, it was sometimes frustrating to find the apps I was looking for or to change the settings.  For the most part, I used Linux on this laptop probably 95% of the time.  So I thought this would be perfect to try out Windows 7.

Installation

Installation went really smooth and much faster than XP or my experience restoring Vista from the DVD’s that came with my laptop.  Once it was completed, I noticed that I couldn’t set my screen resolution beyond 1024 x 600 and that I didn’t have any WiFi connectivity.  Clearly I was in need of some drivers, so I plugged in an ethernet cable, got connected on my LAN and started up Windows Update.  It found nine updated, all of which were all my device drivers.

While that was downloading, I downloaded the latest drivers from ATI for my video card.  I picked my model and downloaded the Vista drivers.

Windows was also complaining about the fact I didn’t have any anti-virus installed, so I installed my favorite one, Avast!.

When everything finished installing, it of course wanted to reboot. Once it did, everything just worked.  I had Wifi and I was able to get my screen resolution to 1280 x 800.  I re-ran Windows Update and it reported that I was all up to date.

Customizing

Now, I was ready to get down to business.  So I installed my apps I typically install;

  • Firefox with Foxmarks
  • Digsby

After syncing my bookmarks, I had all my stuff that I feel is important.  I tried out IE8 and honestly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between it and IE7.  I will say that my company’s Exchange 2007 web portal wouldn’t work with IE8.

I also made the icons tiny on the taskbar.  I felt the default taskbar took too much real estate.  I also picked a different background.

Joining my wireless networks was a breeze.  I was surprise how easy Microsoft made it.  You can pretty much click on the list of wireless networks and click on one to join.

One thing that threw me for a loop was plugging in my headphones.  Both the laptop speakers and the headphones were active.  I had to right click on the speaker in the systray and open up “Playback Devices.”  Both my headphones and the speakers were there.  I had to “Deactivate” the laptop speakers.

Windows 7 tried to make you feel good about your headphones, regardless how crappy they may be by calling them a “High Definition Audio Device.

Initial Final Thoughts

I like it.  I told someone that it was like they took the good stuff out of Vista and the good stuff out of XP and mushed them together.  It is much more inituitve than Vista and I would feel much better about upgrading from XP to Windows 7 than I ever did with Vista.

As I installed items and ran Windows Update, I got the initial “Do you want to run this…” pop up, but no where near as in frequency as I did in Vista.

I also really like some of the new apps you get.  I noticed it comes with Powershell, (which I’ve heard great things about, but never played with), and some neat process and memory management tools.

It may be an illusion but it seems that my laptop runs things faster with Windows 7 than with Vista.  I have no real benchmarks, but it sure seems that way.  I did notice that my memory consumption is very low in comparision with my XP machine.

I like how Windows 7 found all my needed drivers via Windows update.   I was worried I would have to load drivers off the OEM DVD that came with my laptop.

My battery is lasting a little longer, too.  It could be that the cooling fan isn’t coming on at all, (under Vista, hot air was blasting out, but I haven’t seen it like that yet).

I haven’t really done much but email, surfing, listening to music, but I must say that I think this is really promising.  I applaud Microsoft for releasing this out to the public for feedback and testing.

I’ll continue to do things with it and post more info.