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 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.


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.

my favorite music videos

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Since there is Youtube and Google Video, it’s easy to find your favorite music videos. Granted, the quality isn’t always perfect, but I rarely watch videos on MTV or the other music video channels. So, that’s where I get my fix. There are several videos that I would consider to be my favorites and some that I would say were very influential in my life. I should also clarify that while these are songs I really really like, this list is about my favorite music videos. Without futher ado, here’s my list of Top Videos…

Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads.
I saw this video one night when I was spending the night at my Grandma’s house. My grandma would let me stay up late and I remember sleeping on a cot in the living room and it was a Friday night. SCTV was on, and this video was featured on the show.

Around this time, I bought my first LP… it was Devo, New Traditionalists. What, you want to know what my first cassette was? Sure, it was the self titled album by The Clash.

Rubber Biscuit by The Blues Brothers.
Okay, so this video isn’t that great, but I got lots of questions about “What’s with your tag line?” Well, I got it from this song.

You got to understand that I lived in Chicago when the first Blues Brother movie was made. As goofy as this song is, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Everything is Everything by Lauryn Hill.
Damn, she’s got a voice. My wife was really into her and when I saw this video, I was floored.

I like the song and I like the who turntable motif. It’s a great video and song.

The Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

I love this video.  I remember when True Stories came out.  It was a classic in my opinion and this video I thought really showed off some of the creative genius they had.

Great visuals.

They Wiseguys – Start the Commotion

I haven’t been able to find a lot of info on the Wiseguys, (apparently, there is German band with the same name and they overshadow these Wiseguys).  But I love this video with the loops (both audio and video).  It’s one of those songs that just sticks with you.  I sure wish I could find a better version.

Johnny Cash – Hurt

I don’t care who you are and what you’re made of.  If this doesn’t tug at the ol’ heart strings, then you are probably a cold bastard.  The first time I saw this video, I had a household of contractors, (we had just moved into our new house).  Everything came to a stand still and when the video was over, we were all teary eyed… “Uh, I musta got sumthin’ in my eye…”

I hope I go out like Johnny Cash.

Smog (Bill Callahan) – Rock Bottom Riser
I’m a recent new listener to Smog. I love it, or I should say him What I like about this video is the calligraphy-like draws that illustrate the song. I’ve always wondered how they did things, and I think this video is amazing. Much in the same way I’ve always enjoyed the opening to the old Pink Panther movies.

Cornershop – Brimful of Asha
I don’t remember where I saw this first, but I loved it the first time I saw it. In the same vein as “How’d they do that…” this video is cool. The song is good, too. I picked up the CD somewhere and there are a lot of good songs on it. Besides, Tjinder is a cool name, right?

Adidas – Hello Tomorrow
This really isn’t a music video, but rather a commercial. When I first saw this, I was about to watch the Simpsons with my son and after it was over, we just looked at each other with out jaws hanging open. We must have watched it 20 times on the TiVo. This video is so interesting, it got all sorts of press in the Ad journals:

And that girl singing is Karen O from the “Yeah-Yeah-Yeah’s”.

Einstürzende Neubauten – Stella Maris
Sure, I like the song, but this video is beautifully shot and composed. The subtitles also lend to the overall experience and tell a engaging story.

I would also like a hat like that.


I’ll be the first to admit that I am not up all the music videos these days.  But much of the music that is churned and pushed out is just crap.  The videos I’ve posted here are significant to me in that they were either the first time I was exposed to the music or I was a little kid and they made a profound impact on me.

There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where i feel at home

And I built a home
For you
For me

Until it disappeared
From me
From you
And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust


Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the color of green
Ground had arose and passed it’s knees

By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me

And I built a home
For you
For me

Until it disappeared
From me
From you

And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust

– The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build a Home

Happy New Year!

Hey Folks! I hope you all had as nice as a New Years Eve as our family did.  It was really nice and we spent some good times with our neighbors and met a lot of nice people.  The kids had fun and even though I slept in, I feel pretty good.

Chinese TV

Today, I am going to finish helping my Chinese mother-in-law set up a Medialounge device on her TV.  You see, she bought this rather cool set top box that was a wireless media extender but was pre-programmed to go out and get Chinese content on her TV.  She would like to watch this on her TV while she did her treadmill, Lose Weight Exercise bike, etc.  She doesn’t want to watch it on her computer monitor.

We got it set up and I was pretty impressed.  I can’t read Chinese but it did look like it was going to be great.  What she found out was, they get you hooked and then literally nickel and dime you to death.  The first shows are free, then $.10, then $.50, and so on.  She sent it back, but wished we could do something else.

D-link DPG-1200

We had a family trip to our local Fry’s and we were trying to figure out how to get the Chinese content off her PC onto her TV.   Sure, Fry’s had a ton of the wireless media players, but they were expensive.  They had two open boxes for the D-Link DPG-1200.  I scanned the barcode with my Google G1 and found that the price was right but had a really hard time finding any reviews.

I brought it home to set it up and was impressed.   Now this is no original XBOX with XBMC on it, but it would do fine for our needs.

Wireless Woes

What I didn’t plan on was that her PC is hooked up wireless as well as the DPG-1200.  The DPG-1200 could get content from the Internet just fine, but watching content off of her PC sucked bad.  I’m guessing it had to do with both devices being connected to the LAN wirelessly.

So the plan is when we go over there, will run Cat5 cable through the walls.  This is always a slippery slope.

My thoughts on the Dlink DPG-1200

Honestly, I like DPG-1200, but I will admit the set up was very complex.  I don’t think the less tech savvy crowd would have hung with it as much as I did.   Additionally, there is almost zero documentation on what to expect with the device.  Someone who never had a device like this would be like, “Okay, now what?”

I can’t even tell if it supports uPNP, but that’s just me.  For my mother-in-law, I think she’ll be happy but if she didn’t have me around to help, I think she would have disappointed and frustrated.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes today.