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Showing posts from 2009

Review: Office 2010 - First Blush

So, blessed as I am with a Microsoft Technet subscription I downloaded the Office 2010 beta and installed it over the Office 2007 installation I had. There were several things I noticed straight up. The big icon in the top left corner of the software is gone and replaced with a file tab that has all the options previously hidden under the big button. Outlook is substantially changed and I like the changes, with one small exception thus far. The black theme that I liked very much in Office 2007 makes it look sort of busy and isn't quite what I expected. I guess that it will get better in the full release to come (or at least I hope so). The ribbon being used in Outlook is a welcome change. I didn't like the way it was in Outlook 2007 - after all, why have a new look if it doesn't get spread around all the programs in a suite? I've always liked the functionality of the ribbon, despite the dislike it has engendered in some circles. I dread the teaching of it's usage to

Easy Peasy Update - 9.04

As promised I've been fiddling with this for a little while now. While the interface and boot process have been tidied up somewhat I've found several things that I do not like. The touchpad has gone from being perfectly balanced in response and speed to slow and clunky and making me cranky. I've fiddled with the settings but can't get it back to being as smooth and precise as it was with 8.04. Grr. Nevermind - it's OK now. When scrolling in the main screen if there are more options available than space, it scrolls between desktops. This is *not* what I want it to do and it's very frustrating. I do like the colours and some of the updates are nice. If you've got a eeePC or a similar netbook, then Easy Peasy is a great OS replacement. It's performance leads me to another post - why is Linux so freakin' slow nowadays? It used to kick Windows butt all over the place but I can get comparable performance from a well crafted Windows XP install as an Ubuntu

Adventures with eeePC: Enter EasyPeasy

Recently I attempted to enable the Advanced Desktop on my eeePC. I'm not *exactly* sure what I broke, but I broke my little netbook good. Damn. I could get it to boot but had no desktop. No icons, no information nothing. Very, very disappointing. So I thought that perhaps it was an opportunity to have a look at a few other things. Hunting for a new netbook operating system found me looking mostly at Linux offerings, with some websites advocating Windows 7. Eventually I found my way to Easy Peasy ( ) which uses Ubuntu 8.04 as its base and builds upon that with a myriad of customisations and clever manipulations of the system. I love Ubunutu - it's basis in Debian means it's rock solid with tonnes of terrific applications. The installation was a bit nervy - I didn't want to brick my netbook. The website has an excellent walk through and after a few USB memory key issues I finally got things going in the right direction. The interface is great

Review: Sun VirtualBox

Recently I've had to find a virtual machine emulator. Given my limited budget (read: zero) I was hunting around for various different pieces of software. Microsoft have their virtual machine software: Virtual PC which is a polished bit of software. It is, however, not up to par with what I want to do. Because I run a host Windows machine and want to use Linux as a guest operating system, VirtualPC has all sorts of issues with it. I tried it and didn't like it. I stumbled upon VirtualBox ( ) which appears to be sponsored by Sun . Given Sun's previous support of Open Source, I decided to try it. The installation is very simple and straightforward - it installs extra network adapters, DHCP servers for the internal NAT'd network and a few other bits and pieces. The guest OS support it offers is excellent. In a *very* short amount of time I had a copy of Debian running from the netboot cd, installed and configured an FTP server and I was very happy. My h

Review: ASUS eeePC 701SD Linux

I recently picked one of these machines up for $279 bucks at the local computer shop. This is under their buy price so I figure it's a pretty good deal really. I've been interested in the netbook scene for a while and the eeePC was the one that caught my imagination first. Although I have had the Dell L400 it still wasn't a netbook . The specs of the 701 are readily available on the net - for the purposes my work I've upgraded mine in the following way - swapped in a 1GB RAM DIMM and installed an 8GB SD card to double the internal 8GB SSD's storage. I don't really intend on using this PC to watch movies and the like and I've only got a minimal amount of data to store on it so the 16GB of storage is more than adequate. I love the lightness of this machine - I store it in the top part of my camera bag (a Targus one) and it fits easily without increasing the overall bulk of the bag. I take it pretty much everywhere - the ports available are exceptionally u

Career Changes

I've been in the IT gig for 12 years now. I've seen the changes in the way computers are used, their prominence in business and at home change immensely. I started using Netscape Navigator to browse the net when a 14.4 kbps modem was high speed and saw ADSL 2+ hit our humble homes (not to mention cable and everything else!). But now I feel it's time for a change. But change to do what? This is where I find myself at the moment - caught in a quandry between what I already do and am not happy about, and knowing I want to do something different but having no idea about what I want to do. Whatever I do I'll be successful in - I'm not concerned about that. I'm more just confused - as if there are too many options out there for me to choose. I recently re-read Steve Pavlina's blog  <- specifically that post there - How to Discover your Life's purpose in 20 minutes. I haven't gone through the exercise yet, but I have every intention to - well once I&

Windows 7 RC - ongoing thoughts

I've been playing with 7 for a few weeks now and I have to say, I'm both impressed and annoyed by it! Odd in a way, but here is the reason for such a strange dichotomy. It's notably faster than Vista and handles pretty well. The crappy PC I'm testing it on runs smoothly and is usable for my daily tasks which is terrific. It has given the box a new lease on life and the only cost has been an upgraded video card. The driver support so far has been good and everything works. Now for the bad - I recently joined the system to my Windows Server 2008 based domain and the log on time - from boot to three finger salute and login blew out enormously. I checked a variety of things that it might have been - often I find that DNS issues cause slow downs here, but my DHCP assigned IP addresses use my 2008 server as their primary DNS server so it isn't that. The system is on a gig network, and both server and client have gig networking cards in it. At first I thought it was

Windows 7 RC - First Thoughts

Being a Technet Direct member is a great thing. I downloaded Windows 7 RC yesterday, burned it to a DVD and then started encountering difficulties. My test machine is a whitebox Celeron 2400 with 2GB of DDR RAM and 3 Western Digital hard disks. This wasn't the problem. The onboard video card and network card are, however. The initial installation of 7 blanked out as it booted - the LCD monitor I have was unable to display the horizontal resolution so it turned off. Eventually I got to a point where I could see stuff and I installed Windows 7. After installation, the same problem occurred - no video. So I plugged my PC into a venerable 17" CRT monitor and I was able to see things on the screen. Unfortunately, after changing the video settings, the damn thing did exactly the same thing again when I plugged it back into the LCD. So I found myself an NVidia GX5500 or something similar - nothing special but does the job. So I can see Windows 7 in all it's glory, except that it

IDE Failures and backups

For 80% of people, running backups is a non-event. We simply don't consider doing them, not because we are lazy but it just never crosses our mind. Fortunately I had a happy event last week - I ran a full backup of my beloved D610 Dell Latitude's hard disk and not 2 days later the bastard failed on me. It was then I found out how much harder it is to get IDE hard disks for laptops. The 40GB HDD in it was adequate for my purposes and the smallest I could find was 120GB. Now I know how easy it is to fill 120GB of disk with music or movies or whatnot, but in context, I store very little of such things on this notebook. It's for work, and for online stuff such as Google's services and apps. At any rate, I use the wonderful TrueCrypt ( ) to create encrypted partitions and then use the equally handy rsync (or in a pinch xcopy ) to incrementally back that data up across the network to my servers.  I thought perhaps I'd share how I do this, using xcop

Review: Palm Treo Pro

As I mentioned in my previous post, I use a Palm Treo Pro for work purposes. I chose this phone for a very specific reason: we use an Alcatel / Lucent phone system and there are various integration technologies available (for both Windows Mobile and the Nokia Symbian OS) that I want to test and use in a production environment. Having used the Treo 750 to great effect in my previous job, I hoped the new iteration would prove just as useful. Unfortunately I find this phone to be cumbersome and annoying at times - I will elaborate of course. Visually the Treo Pro is slimmer and slightly smaller than the Treo 750 which is nice - the 750 was a pocketful by itself, whereas the Pro is slim enough to squeeze in with my keys. The screen is large and well lit and accuracy with the stylus has not been an issue. The touch screen is sensitive but not overly so and is quite responsive to the fingernail tap. Palm have added a wireless on/off switch on the side which I find to be redundant (you

Review: Nokia e66

Recently my beloved e61i perished in an unfortunate washing basin related accident. I was upset, more so because it was an expensive phone and only 15 months into a 24 month contract. Fortunately my SD card was undamaged and my photos and assorted other junk was safe - whew! On to the topic of buying a new phone - firstly I had a list of requirements that it needed to match. The e61i provided email, wireless G networking and many other very nice features. I looked, therefore, at either the e71 - of which I've had one, or the e66 - the slide feature of which put me off a little bit. Having had an e71 for a short while as a work phone, I knew how lovely they were and enjoyed using one immensely. The full QWERTY keyboard was very nice and I liked it a lot. I was thinking of a smaller phone though - the e71, like it's predecessor was quite wide and hard to slip into a narrow pocket. So I investigated the e66. Here is a list of things I liked and don't like about the phone: Like