Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Windows Vista - do the upgrade

I've been working in Vista for the past 2 weeks as I didn't have time to really explore it's ins and outs, so I decided to set up my laptop to dual boot and try to use Vista as much as possible.

So far, as a Network Geek, I like it!

Sure it's flashy and anything looks better than the XP default "Fisher Price" theme, but that's not what I mean.

MS has taken the time to do many many things right. Things that drove a lot of folks away to Mac and Linux because it didn't look like Windows was ever going to get there.

That said, they failed miserably on IE7, and since that is the browser for Vista we'll be stuck with it for the next 6 years or so. They did manage to get PNG graphics to work right in it though, so all you web heads get working on your PNG based designs.

I'll be devoting the next few posts on here to several different areas that I think are worth noting in the Vista upgrade, starting with the new User model, Parental Controls, and IPV6 support. Check back often, unlike the past these updates will be sort of rapid-fire, I think one a day for a little while.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Get Democracy

For anyone who's loving the whole YouTube and podcast phenomenon that's currently revolutionizing the way we consume entertainemnt products and from whom we get them... if you haven't heard of democracy (the video player) go right now and check it out.

Democracy is more than just your average media player. It is a TV platform for the internet age.

When you first get it you will see a few sample channels in your subscriptions one of which is the channel channel. (previews of some of the other channels) Once you are done looking at those move into the channels pane and find some channels that really interest you. My current favorite is PixelPerfect with Bert Monroy. (from Revision3.com, the guys who used to do the Screen Savers on the old Tech TV channel in the old fashioned Cable and Satellite universe.)

Some of these are StandardDef, some are HighDef. (Pixel Perfect is a good HD example. ) Whether a show is low def or high def usually has more to do with budget and whether it is suitable for HD treatment (will the viewers gain some value from the bigger download) not based on advertising revenue. (of which there still isn't much in the new IPTV world. )

Democracy doesn't stop with the channels though (which use a combination of podcast and bittorrent technologies) it also extends to making You Tube and Google video (as well as a few others) more useful too. You can search these video sites from right inside Democracy and then download (yes I said download, as in you get a copy that you can keep or burn to a DVD to watch on an oldfashioned TV) your favorite videos and get this, the quality is better than if you went to YouTube to watch it and there's no animated banner ads for Home Depot to deal with.

Oh, and worry not, Democracy is Free and OpenSource and available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Mac users get a bonus in that if it is running in your Dock you get a little green button added to the icon to tell you how many new videos it has downloaded for you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Virtual Machines

Today Microsoft released the latest version of its virtualization software, Virtual PC 2007, now optimized for Vista.

Virtualizing software like Virtual PC and Microsoft's rival in this arena, VMWare, allow users to run older operating systems, or alternate operating systems from within Windows.

Volume license customers running Windows Vista Enterprise Edition are allowed to run up to four additional virtual instances of Windows on their PC. Other users can download Virtual PC, but need to license any other copies of Windows, however, MS offers a version of XP with IE 6 for free download that will expire in March. This is meant to allow web designers to upgrade their current XP to IE7 while still maintaining a way to test for the old browser.

VMWare, my personal preference, also provides a tool to convert an existing windows installation into a virtual machine, so if you want to keep you old computer because it's got everything installed already, but it's just taking up too much room in your home office you could try virtualizing it.