We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, May 7. 2011
I hereby take them all back.
So, to sum up:
— If you're an average user who just grabs the ol' email and surfs the 'ol web, then Win7 is a great step up from XP or Vista. It's quicker than older versions in almost every way you can name.
— On the other hand, if you're a geek like me who wants a tough, robust operating system that you can tweak and reconfigure and generally thrash about, then you want Windows 7. You don't get any of the tweaking and reconfiguring and thrashing stuff — but the increased speed makes up for everything.
Specific notes and fixes are below the fold.
It occurs to me I've never actually listed out all of the operating systems I've used.
What do you mean, "obsessive"??
To me, moving up to Win7 was basically a great big case of "How do I take care of all the tweaks that TweakUI took care of?" A good example would be where IE saves its Favorites. The smart computer user keeps them off the C Drive, just so nothing's lost if the system totally melts down and has to be restored from an image file — if not fully reinstalled. TweakUI reassigned the Favorites' location with a simple drop-down menu routine. Now you have to actually edit the Registry... by hand.
And there are all kinds of pesky things that Win7 carried over from Vista, and there are pesky things it invented all by itself. I'm slowly but methodically finding a solution for them all. For example, one of the first things I tackled was the annoying pop-out boxes on the Task Bar. (Interestingly, they can't actually be disabled, but you can delay the pop-out to a lengthy number of seconds so they appear to be turned off.)
As for speed, almost every single program I've used both loads and runs faster. My Verizon Wireless Internet connection was noticeably faster right from the get-go. Ditto my video rendering programs. Even odd things, like the box that pops up on Netflix when you 'Add' a movie, open faster. I presume Win7 is doing a better job of pre-loading drivers and libraries, like Flash drivers for the Netflix box.
The main thing that kept me from using it the first time around was the clunky Start Menu, but that's been resolved with the superb Classic Start Menu program.
My page of tips & tweaks is here. If you don't do anything else, at least do the "Pre-Loaders" part. That's the step that prevents computers from slowing down over time.
While 64-bit Windows systems might be faster than the standard 32-bit, one of the demonstrable differences is that 32-bit systems can only read 3 gigs of memory, not the 4 gigs that's in many new machines. The thing is, you really don't need 4 gigs of memory, but you definitely might need 3 if you're into some heavy-duty programs, but the hitch is, these days the mem chips are 2 gigs apiece, so the machines end up with either 2 or 4. So, to get the optimum 3 gigs, you buy the 4-gig machine, then you might as well get a 64-bit machine so you can utilize the 4th gig, just in case.
The problem with going to 64-bit is that you might end up losing a few programs. I lost Heritage Dictionary and a Scrabble game I'd been playing since the Windows 95 days. The Setup programs simply said, "Sorry, bud, no can do on a 64-bit system, contact the manufacturer for latest version."
You think to yourself, "Crap! I knew switching to Win 7 was a mistake! If only there was some kind of 'emulation' program that would act like Win XP and allow me to run my beloved older programs!"
And, as it turns out...
Windows XP Emulation
The bad news is that it only works on the more expensive editions of Windows 7, 'Professional' and 'Ultimate'. If you're unsure which version you have, right-click on 'Computer' on the Desktop and open 'Properties'.
The home page is here. I can't run it because my new rig didn't come with one of them-thar fancy-dancy editions (I reckon!), but my good bud RadioHowie says it works a treat. You don't even have to run the emulation program first; it runs during boot-up and the icons for the programs can be slipped right into the Start Menu like usual.
Other Win7 Proggies
— To organize/eliminate (most of) the entries in the right-mouse-button 'context' menu, try FileMenu Tools. Look through the 'Commands of other applications' tab, uncheck things, hit the 'Save' button, test it out. Another one to try is ShellExView.
— To organize/eliminate (most of) the entries in the 'New' menu, try ShellMenuNew.
— To replace the now-worthless Search feature, try Super Finder. Be sure to do the tweaks on the page after you install it.
— If you're still looking for a replacement for the fabled Outlook Express, try Thunderbird. It handles multiple identities even better than OE did.
— An index of 'Doc's Computin' Tips' is here.
I pretty much hate everything about Windows 7, especially the dipshit folder windows which have a will of their own when it comes to where they open and what columns they display, but I'll put up with a LOT of small inconveniences in order to have a machine that's faster overall, and Win7 is certainly that.
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The Mrs. new Toshiba laptop has Windows 7 and frankly I think it is a vast improvement in terms of speed. However the updating process can really cause major issues - she had to send away for the reboot/restore disc because one of the updates blew the machine up - locked it right up with no way to break the processing cycle. Pretty strange.
Capn' - That's pretty rare. They (obviously) put their updates through the mill beforehand, just to avoid such calamities. Worse, if she couldn't reboot, then there's no way to tell who the bad boy was, nor any easy way to use the 'Restore' feature. That's why I'm such a devout believer in this. Slap the boot-up CD in the drive, go find the last image file and voila, instant restored system.
iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, iMac. No need for Windows. If you insist on using Windows you could install it on your Intel based Mac, but I've never needed or wanted to. I have installed Microsoft Word on one machine, but you don't really need it unless sending documents for publication (when sending stuff to my editor I use it). For everyday use, Mac's Pages program is much cheaper and will read and allow you to edit Word documents sent you by email.
The only thing that Windows machines are still better for IMHO are playing RPG videogames but as more and more people play these online or get them from Steam or play them on consoles, the advantage Windows have (with the games being cheaper and more available than on Mac) will disappear.
I may be biased because I primarily use my Macs for photography. Organizing and editing huge photo collections.
One IT person at work says "the only good thing about Windows machines? They keep me employed because the hardware and software are so crappy. Terrible machines, buggy software, constant security issues. I use all Mac at home."
Also because I have spent countless weekends troubleshooting the kid's Windows' machines after unwise downloads led to myriad bugs, spyware, and the Dread Blue Screen of Death. Has never happened to one of my Macs.
Low end plasticky disposable Windows PCs are cheaper, but the displays on the laptops are never good enough for editing photos. And for computers capable of running good graphics programs and high definition monitors, and storing massive photo libraries, the Macs aren't that much more expensive and the quality is infinitely better.
---Hopeless Apple Fan Girl
(tho I don't like Jobs' arrogance, he does make good products)
you really don't need 4 gigs of memory
Yeah, working with a 72 gig datacube in two gigs of physical memory with a 32 bit address space is sooo much more economical. I'd say what you need depends on what you do. And 64 bit Windows 7 has it's place and is a lot slicker than XP, but for development I'll stick to linux because it comes with a lot more tools.
Doc, have you tried VirtualBox? I'm running a Linux VM and an XP VM on XP. Slicker than all get-out. If you still have your XP install disk, you could run an XP VM on 7 for your games. http://www.virtualbox.org/
My 1024-bit quantum computer has already made every possible computation, so I no longer need a computer.
Free, at last!
(What's that bright light outside? It feels hot.)