I was given this Sony Vaio laptop from our local LUG, it has Ubuntu on but I needed it for my accounts so dual booted Windows XP with the license stuck on the bottom. It's been a while since I've had a Windows laptop as I'm used to OS X on my iMac.
Most my friends chat on MSN messenger/Windows messenger/MSN/Windows Live Messenger (or whatever it is branded now) so I installed the Windows version. A few years ago the program was just an instant messenger for chatting to people, now it's so bloated I had to write this blog to highlight its problems.
As you can see almost 50% of the application interface is taken up by elements that have nothing to do with instant messaging! (Tabs can be hidden in the options but this is not default).
Compared to the Mac version there is so much bloat that detract from the original idea of the program.
Even though there are no search boxes, tabs or adverts the Mac version of the program remains highly usable and easy to use and look at.
I did a quick redesign in Fireworks of the Windows version to make it look better.
I've basically cut out all the crap - the program is back to its roots - for chatting to people online. All it needs now is some brushed aluminium.......
So I was browsing Digg.com last night when I came across this post about the 69 best tech blogs, it has all the big commercial players including Gizmondo (1) Tech Crunch (3) and TUAW (31). I'm scrolling down the list seeing how many I recognise when I come across number 26 - I'm A Fish!
I was more than a little surprised though it's great to see another site recognising us in such a list. In an updated post today the site explains how he came up with the list and the time and effort that went into it. The list is in no particular order though still is good to be in the middle!
Kudos to Micahville!
With so much information about the iPhone being generated over the past week here is a run down of the various reviews and information we have been getting about the iPhone.
Reviews Walt Mossberg on the iPhone. One of the first iPhone reviews and goes into quite some detail about the various functions of the phone. This is a good starting place to find out about the iPhone. The New York Times iPhone Review. By David Pogue. Again another good starting place to find out about the iPhone. David Pogue's iPhone review. (video) He really doesn't like AT&T's Edge network. Cnet Australia on the iPhone vs the Nokia N95. Compares thickness, screen size, display surface, Wifi, talk time, internet use, video playback and audio playback time as well as a range of other criteria. The iPhone scorecard from reviews so far. The iPhone seems to be scoring highly so far.
Engadget on comparing the iPhone to the Blackberry. Essential read if you are thinking about an iPhone and are a business user. Wireless Info iPhone review. Says the iPhone is attractive to business users and is revolutionary in some ways but only evolutionary in others. First impressions for Daring Fireball. Splits the review up into the different parts of the phone, not as long as some reviews but has some very good points. Howard Forums on the problems with the iPhone. Points out some useful things that you might expect on other phones but not on the iPhone.
Engadget iPhone review. Detailed review about the various features, comes to the same conclusion as many other reviews though states that productivity with the iPhone could be better. TUAW with real world iPhone experience. Dave Caolo has fallen in love with the iPhone as he puts it. iLounge iPhone review. Ten pages of indepth iPhone information saying the phone is great but the two year contract sucks. TUAW initial thoughts on Mail and SMS. Generally positive about using SMS but as he admits he doesn't send a lot of SMS messages. Pocket-lint iPhone review. Great phone but still with it downsides, they are not convinced on the two year contract.
Hardware TUAW with some iPhone pictures and first impressions. Fixit on dismantling the iPhone. (Someone was going to do it sooner or later) PC World on the iPhone stress test. (Video) Engadget on the iPhone using an 620mhz ARM CPU. Potentially made by Samsung. Business Week on how much the iPhone components cost to make. Discusses some of the possible manufactures of parts and how much they cost. TUAW on the iPhone battery replacement warranty. Apple Insider on the internal components in the iPhone. Parts from Samsung and Intel.
Engadget on the iPhone not looking so cool. Nasty crack in the top of the iPhone from the edge of a table.. AnandTech on dissecting the iPhone. Lots of pictures and detail about what is inside the iPhone. How Stuff Works on how the iPhone works. Good detail of the touch screen system and features.
Rumours Engadget on a 3G iPhone for Europe. On Vodaphone and T-Mobile in the UK.
Apple Insider on how the iPhone could be updated for Leopard. Apple Insider admit they are not sure about this rumour.
Applications Lifehacker on the top 10 iPhone applications. Some useful apps and some not so useful apps. Hackintosh on the iPhone system restore image download. Download straight from Apple. Joe Hewitt on Firebug for the iPhone. Debugging software for the iPhone. 25 Top Web Applications for the iPhone. Includes iPhone Chat, Google Reader, iPhoneDigg and OneTrip Shopping list. iPhone Source. Good website on iPhone applications.
Activation Engadget on the iPhone costs. (All American costs, no European costs available yet). Apple Insider on porting ineligible numbers to the iPhone. TUAW on how to get a contract-free iPhone. More on prepay from TUAW using 999-99-9999 as your social security number.
Interface Apple video on the keyboard interface. Official video from Apple about how to use the on screen touch typing. Think Secret with high resolution iPhone interface screen shots. Some nice pictures of the phone if you have not yet seen what it looks like. Gizmondo on touch typing on the iPhone. (Video) Engadget video on iPhone interface. Available in high definition. The iPhone Root Password. Ged Blog on setting the iPhones wallpaper. Useful if you want to put pictures from web sites onto the wallpaper of your phone.
Humour Stephen Colbert on the iPhone. He doesn't actually have one but has the next best thing, an imaginary one. Punking an Apple Fanboy on iPhone release week. Some people have too much time on their hands, funny though! The Joy of Tech Comic.
Other Gizmondo on what the iPhone doesn't have. Songs as ringtones (seems an obvious thing to have), games, flash, MMS (seems obvious too) and video recording to name a few. BBC on the iPhone making it into stores. Includes a video of Google CEO Eric Schmidt showing off his iPhone. BBC on the iPhone creating a stir at launch. Selling over 500,000 units in its opening weekend. Three accessories that won't work on your iPhone. Won't work as a phone when docked into speakers, no stereo Bluetooth and your headphones may not work. Think there is something missing from this list? Contact me.
On Sunday evening I finished writing an article I had been preparing for a couple of weeks. It was full of my own experience and careful research into the area of OS X optimization, I compiled in total 52 tips. Once publishing on Sunday I submitted the article to around 20 top Mac news sites thinking that a couple might pick them up. Luckily some did and by late Monday it found its way onto Digg.com, where it got promoted to the front page early Tuesday morning. I've never had an article on Digg so was quite surprised to find someone has submitted it and that it received over 1500 Diggs. The traffic increase had quite an effect on ImAFish so I'm going to try to evaluate whats happened.
The graph is from ImAFish's Google Analytics and shows unique visits. As you can see from the Graph the huge traffic spike on Tuesday, this is when the article made it to the front page of Digg. The flat line represents around 200-250 visits/day.
The table below shows total number of hits from the week for the various locations. What's interesting is how this balances out over the individual days - 20,000 off the Digg hits come on the Tuesday though the StumbleUpon traffic is spread quite evenly over the week. It will be interesting to see how this traffic will taper off over the coming days/weeks , one of my other popular articles still has a constant traffic stream even though it was written over a year ago. I thought it was also interesting to leave the 'average time on site' stats in as the StumbleUpon average is double what it is for all the others. I thought this may be because there are more comments nearer the end of the week for Stumble visitors to read however 99% of the lifehacker.com visits have been in at the end of the week. Why are StumbleUpon visitors spending twice as long on the site and viewing on average 2 pages? I'm not really surprised about the low pages/visit as being a Digg user myself I rarely look further around a site unless it's been Dugg a number of times in a short period making me more interested. The browser stats shouldn't be of any particular surprise considering it's a OS X based article so I was expecting a higher rate of Safari users than usual. 70% of the visitors used OS X, 27% Windows and 3% Linux. Over the week I used 35gig of bandwidth, mainly because I hosted all my own images for the article. Adverts My advertising revenue was better than usual however it did not increase at the same percent that the visits did. It's pretty well known that Digg users don't click adverts and I could have done more to optimise the adverts to be in better positions however my main goal of the article was not to milk it for revenue. On average for the week page click through rate has been at 0.19%, which is down considerably from usual.
I was quite surprised with my hosting in the fact that it didn't go down at all. I just have a normal shared hosting account. Its not unusual to see websites that have gone down because of the Digg effect and with the volume of hits I was getting I was expecting the worst. I'm not sure the exact reason on the server staying up but I know its not overloaded with accounts, is a reasonable speed and is run by some very good techies. My articles blog runs Wordpress 2.1 with the WP-Cache module installed which I can imagine also helped. Response The response to the article was in general very positive and its created quite a debate for some people, one person has even copied my list and written responses to all of them, its a bit patronising and he doesn't add anything useful to my article. Though I have to give credit to him for being able to spin my article into something that has also brought him traffic and for not censoring all the negative comments it has given him. Its been good to see a range of comments on ImAFish and I thank those people who made corrections or added to the original article.
Content Evaluation There are some parts of the article where I should have been more clear and this unfortunately led to some confusion for some people, in future I will have to make sure any points made are obvious. Overall though its been a very positive experience and a very interesting week, hopefully I can repeat it again with another article in the not so distant future. I'm off for a week to Egypt on holiday so will bring another holiday review the week after.
I started writing this as a blog post however as it continued in length it started to sound more like an article so here goes.... For doing IT support at work we had to learn Windows Vista and while we haven't had much interest yet it is inevitable that something will go wrong for us to fix. The majority of other reviews I've read online have not been particularly positive with many people commenting on the DRM restrictions and lack of anything ground breaking.
I wanted to see for myself and of course share it with the wonderful ImAFish fans. To save reinstalling I opted to use Virtual PC 2007, it made sense as it meant I could do XP and Vista support from one computer though it made it hard to see the performance differences. My rig is an Athlon 64 3000+ with 2GB Memory, I gave Virtual PC 1gig of memory and used Vista Business Upgrade. Installation seemed to take forever and wasn't helped by the fact I had to install XP first then install Vista. Three hours later and a couple of restarts I had a Vista desktop. At this point Vista was painfully slow to do anything , I managed to slowly install the Virtual PC additions and reboot the system. This vastly improved things however I tweaked the performance settings a bit more to give maximum performance. At this point i'm sure your all gagging for a screen shot so here we go Windows Vista... (click to enlarge)
As you can see from removing all of the high performance settings you get what looks like Windows 2000! This unfortunately made me lose the "wow" factor so I enabled "Use visual styles on windows and buttons" from the performance options.
This made Vista look like....
You probably recognise this from many of the other Vista screen shots. It's hard not to like the new theme, even without Aero its a lot more polished, smart and has an almost calming effect on what you do. Also in the screen shot is the new start menu, finally they have discarded those annoying nested menus that required pin-point mouse accuracy to follow. Start menu items now simply display below the folder title, more like files in Explorer view. Once you start doing anything you will notice lots of confirmation windows popping up, these tend to be incredibly annoying, I got 3 pop-up boxes just when trying to install Flash Player in IE7.
Fortunately these can be turned off in Control Panel > User Accounts > Turn User Account Control on or off. It will ask you to reboot but its well worth it. You will also need to turn off alerts in the Windows Security Centre to stop Vista from constantly reminding you that account control is disabled.
I tried a couple of common applications, Firefox and SmartFTP both worked fine and didn't look too misplaced within Vista, in fact IE7 looks more out of place with its annoying interface. The majority of Vista can be customised like XP and as you can see from my first screen shot its not hard to pull away the glossy interface though as I said before it is nice.
Most of your favourite tools will be in the same place such as msconfig and the command prompt though incidentally these are now run from the start search box. This can also be used for launching applications, if I was to type in 'Internet' it would launch Internet Explorer, or if I type in 'ass' it launched Remote Assistance. Search has been deeply improved, instead of it taking three minutes to search your hard drive its takes three seconds. Microsoft have redesigned control panel again but give you the option to go back to the classic view.
The majority of items within control panel are unchanged, though there are a few new additions such as the option to upgrade your copy of Vista online. The networking section has the most changes and is now branded under the Network and Sharing Center (even though I set my language to English they still cant spell centre right). At first this is a little confusing however it ends up being a nice way of organising various connections. The system tray now only shows one network icon for all your connections making it easier to forget if you keep a VPN connected by accident. The network map is also a nice tool as it shows other Vista computers and how they are connected. Useful stats such as IP address and computer name are also displayed.
Here you can see many more of the tools common in XP have not changed greatly for Vista. I could fill another four pages with Vista comments but its not really worth it, on the surface Vista is not hugely different. It's stable, has working applications and looks nice. If I brought a new PC having Vista would not put me off however I wouldn't upgrade my current desktop. Vista might be a lot different deep down but on the surface its not and for the price of
Google Pack is a collection of free software packaged together with one simple installer distributed by Google. The pack includes a mixture of software including some of Googles own products such as Picasa and Google Desktop, and other programs such as Adobe reader and Norton Antivirus 2005 SE. The pack revolves around the updater that acts a package manager for downloading programs and updates.
A full list of the programs available: Google Earth Google Desktop Picasa Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer Google Pack Screensaver Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbad Ad-Ware SE Personal Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition Adobe Reader 7 Google Talk Google Video Player RealPlayer GalleryPlayer HD Images When first launching Google Pack it will start downloading and installing software, you can however choose which programs you want. For instance I cancelled Google Desktop as it’s a bit intrusive on my desktop and start bar.
The Google website makes it easy to install programs as they are added to the pack.
Within the installed programs list it is easy to remove programs you don’t need.
Google Pack is a good collection of free software, it does a nice job of keeping them up to date and can integrate with your Google account. I found it especially useful when first installing a new PC as the software included with the pack is often what I find myself installing anyway.
The pack has plenty of room to expand in the future and I would like to see an audio manager, video player and maybe even an office suite such as Open Office. Currently Google Pack is Windows XP only.
Yesterday Apple released iTunes 7 with some funky new interface updates. We didn't get a movie store like in the US but we did get some ipod games! While i'm not sure that the games will turn the ipod into the next gameboy they are cheaply priced and does open the ipod up for a lot of new potential applications
Here are a few of the cool new improvements in iTunes.
The first one is the cover browser that lets you scroll through your music via the cover images:
The next view now shows the album art along with the tracks, I have then ordered it by album.
Finally the ipod connection interface has been updated and there are now more options for which media to sync to your ipod (without having to go into preferences).
Some great updates to iTunes well worth the download.
I get paranoid when it comes to data backup and anything that makes it easier and cheaper is always welcome. Currently I backup to external hard drive by simply syncing my home directory to the drive. This is great unless my house is burnt down or the drive is stolen and there is always the risk of it failing. I’ve looked into online backup but for any sort of reasonable space it will cost hundreds of £££ per year. Then Amazon launched s3, mainly meant as a development platform for web services it offered large amounts of cheap disk space and bandwidth. It didn’t take long for JungleDisk to start exploiting this as a data storage service.
As a price comparison each 1gig of data costs $.15 (8p)/month to store on S3 making it far cheaper then Xdrive, Box.net and .Mac (price comparison). Also unlike some other services JungleDisk allowed for unlimited storage. The client comes for Windows, Mac and Linux so it is easy to access your data and with it being online you can install the client as many machines as you want in order to access your data. JungleDisk currently makes no money from the service while they are developing it which does make u wonder how they intend to make it profitable in the future, I’m guessing either through charging for a premium client or somehow taking a cut of the disk space and bandwidth usage. I can see the service being popular but its uptake will be hampered because of slow Internet connections, while most of us in the UK can get between 8-10mb download our upload link has barely changed and still averages at 256kb. To upload 600mb of data it took 18hours, now just think if you say wanted to backup your mp3 collection and soon TV shows and films. Syncing to my external hard drive takes about 10minutes per week but a similar backup to S3 could take hours possibly even days. Online backup is affordable its just not quite accessible and it wont be until the ISPs start increasing upload bandwidth for ADSL and Cable users.
Did you know you can get automatic updates from ImAFish in your browser without even having to visit the site?
RSS feeds contain the latest posts from the various ImAFish services and you can easily subscribe to any or all of them within Firefox.
Not got Firefox? The safest and most secure browser on the Internet.
In order to put these feeds into Firefox do the following:
1. Click the menu Bookmarks then Manage Bookmarks
*The Bookmark Manager will open*
2. Click File then New Live Bookmark
3. Enter the address of the RSS feed you want to subscribe to by copying and pasting one of the following:
Extra (Beta) (Interesting news stories from around the web read more)
4. Drag your new live Bookmark to the Bookmark toolbar folder
*This will then display new posts in the Bookmarks bar in Firefox*
You can then close the Bookmark manager.
If the Bookmarks bar is not shown click View > Toolbars > Bookmark Bar.
Many other websites such as BBC news and the Guardian have RSS feeds that you can subscribe to in order to get automatic news so keep your eye out for the Orange RSS feed icon on websites.
Came accross this application earlier today for putting moustaches on your photos. Quite a pointless program but great fun.
It comes with a range of premade moustaches. Here are a range of examples from my great editing skills:
The program is OS X only and you can download it from www.notdustin.com/istache.
Any staches you do post them here to look at!