|Vista Take Two 2009-01-17 20:08:19 - bktoh
I have been using Vista, pretty much from the day it was launched since it was shipped with my hp Tablet notebook. Initial impressions were not good. It was slow, sluggish and felt even less user-friendly than XP. Wireless LAN connections were erratic, often indicating I only had "Local Access" when my router and other PCs were getting internet access with no issues.
So for my PCs, it has always been XP. All the apps I needed to run just seemed more stable on XP.
In fact, Services for UNIX (a free download from MS) wouldn't run on Vista unless you got Ultimate or the Business (which bundled a subset of SFU). I normally use SFU to configure my drives as an NFS Server for media streaming duties. I found that streaming from my PC would allow a higher bitrate to playback more smoothly than when I use a NAS based NFS. TVIX bundles a dedicated NFS-type utility but it doesn't work for NMT media so I was stuck with SFU.
I was content to let Vista run on the tablet since touchscreen support was natively built in.
But with my main PC now ready for daily duties, I was able to retire my hp notebook for other projects and experiment. My first attempt was to do a clean boot and install Windows 7 Beta.
I have to say that initial impressions were pretty good. The response and speed was what Vista should have been from Day One. But I found that most of my friends who hopped on to Vista post SP1 didn't find Windows 7 that big a jump. This got me piqued.
So I wiped out the Windows 7 Beta install and reinstalled Vista with SP1. Initially had to let Windows Update do its job and get the system completely up to date with patches and drivers. All the hp drivers got downloaded automatically, so I didn't need to go back to hp's website except for the fingerprint reader.
But the thing that amazed me was how much faster and responsive SP1 was, and was comparable to the Windows 7 Beta install.
I still encountered the WLAN internet access drop off, but thankfully Windows Vista is a lot more established now and I can easily google for solutions online. The WLAN "internet access" drop off issue turned out to be due to IPv6. Disabling the IPv6 check solved the problem. Now the WLAN access is rock solid.
I won't say Vista is completely bug-free yet. My Broadcom WLAN completely disappeared from the list of System Devices. My google search shows I am not alone! Thankfully, I already use an ExpressCard Belkin Wireless-N for WLAN duties these days because I get better coverage from my Wireless-N router.
But in terms of application support, stability and responsiveness, I have to say Vista is now ready for prime time. Downloading my favourite freeware apps (Alcohol 52%, AVAST antivirus etc), all worked perfectly, even with an x64 OS install!
|Oldie but Goodie - Cambridge Soundworks MegaWorks THX 2009-01-17 01:23:33 - bktoh
With my spanking new PC, I finally got enough storage space to transfer my iTunes collection (all lossless encoding) from my Vista hp tabletPC.
But storage is only one side of the equation. I also needed something to play the audio through.
My old Inspire 6.1 setup had already stopped working years ago. It was still hooked up to this monstrous Surround Station stand. Remember this?
But mine was a ghastly blue/yellow combination. I didn't have any choice because it was the only color in stock at that time.
During upgrade, I took the opportunity to clear out the Surround Station, the dead Inspire speakers. In the interests of having just some decent audio, I hooked up a pair of Yuin PK1 buds and the Creative X-Fi X-Mod USB DAC.
Since it's the weekend today, I decided to move the old Megaworks THX speaker system to the PC/study room. This 5.1 system spent a few years in my game den/room but because I often played my games in the middle of the night, it was off most of the time, and I played with the games with a headphone/headset combo.
I didn't need or want a 5.1 system for this PC (even though it has a combo HD-DVD and BluRay drive). Just for music. So I only moved the sub, the remote and 2 speakers out.
It's not the last word in high fidelity. After listening to my father-in-law's Anthony Gallo Reference 3.1 system, it's going to be tough to find anything in my budget that is even comparable. But the Megaworks is still a competent setup for a PC. I actually find this speaker, that I believe is over 5 years old, actually sounds better than most of the PC speakers that I audition in Challenger and Sim Lim Square.
Even at this late hour, with moderate listening levels, the small speakers and the sub combo deliver just enough extension and presence in the low frequencies while the trebles come across clearly and fills the room. Midrange is a bit lacking but that's understandable compromise.
Good job, Creative!