Puppy Grub2 boot menu and Atom netbook

I have an Asus Atom netbook/tablet

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220661

http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_PC/Eee_PC_T91MT/

Nice right? It has multi touch screen and windows 7 Home Premium so the multi touch screen actually works.

So, why install Linux? well, it work so slow on Windows 7

I wanted a Windows 7 tablet because that way I can install some software that we use at work that only runs on Windows, but it is so slow, that we don’t use the netbook. So finally I decided to put some new life into it and install Linux Mint 11.

Now, Linux Mint 11 works great, even the touch screen works. Not the multi-touch, and it is not perfect yet. The mouse pointer for example does not follow the screen, but at least the netbook is still useful. I even got Onboard (screen keyboard) working

Ubuntu with Unity on the other hand would have been better since the screen is made for tablet, but it would not install (problems with the Intel video drivers).

So, here comes Puppy. It works awesome. It runs fast. It does not work with touch screen except for the click itself, so it is not for tablets. What it does do, and does it really well is run fast. It boots up quick, it shuts down even quicker, so I don’t even need to put the netbook to sleep. I can just shut it down.

What I wanted was a quick Linux distro to browse the web, after all the network cannot do much more than that. I could run Puppy from a USB, or SD card, and have a persistent state since it was designed for that, but I don’t carry either with this netbook, and since it only takes about 500 MB (even less, but I installed more pets) I wanted in the hard drive (SSD drive), so I did a frugal install.

Unfortunately the frugal install has instructions for Grub, which is almost not used anymore.

Well, Grub2 I found out is actually easier to configure.

Simply go to /etc/grub.d/

in here you will see several files. These are the grub2 config files. Grub will load them in alphabetical order, starting with 00_header and so on. But the file we want to change is 40_custom, so open that file

$ sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

Add at the end

menuentry “Puppy 528 frugal on sda5” {

set root=(hd0,5)

linux /puppy528/vmlinuz psubdir=puppy528

initrd /puppy528/initrd.gz

}

EOF

That is all.

Of course, the menuentry is the name you want to give it in the boot menu. I like to put the version number and the drive it is booting from.

set root sets the hard drive that puppy is booting from. In grub2, the drives match now. sda5 is the fifth partition on the first drive drive. hd0 would be the first drive, and the ,5 is the fifth partition. So, if you installed puppy to sda3 it would be hd0,3, If installed in sdb2 it would be hd1,2.

The next 2 lines are the locations of vmlinuz and initrd.gz The one trick is the psubdir entry. I didn’t add it first and puppy wasn’t booting. But try it first without it

Remember to close the entry using } (you opened { after the menu entry)

The EOF (end of File) is also very important. Even if you have everything else right it will now boot without it

 

NOTE: This is an old post that I worked on a while ago. I now have Bodhi Linux in the netbook, which runs great, but I need to switch sessions to see the login screen (ctrl+alt+F1 and then ctrl+alt+f7 to go back to GUI)

Advertisements

PC Cleaning Apps are a Scam: Here’s Why and How to Speed Up Your PC

PC Cleaning Apps are a Scam: Here’s Why and How to Speed Up Your PC.

I get this question a lot, and I clean up a lot of computers after users use a cleanup tool.

Anyhow, this article has it explained simple and quick, and even shows what to do if you want to really speed up your PC.

Defragmentation is automatically scheduled in Windows Versions newer than Vista.

I want to remind you, that the best way to keep your PC running fast, is not to have unnecessary programs, making sure it is up to date, and running antivirus and antimalware often.

Computers will get a little slow over time, just because the Operative System (Windows/OSX/Linux) has updates and gets heavier, but also because our perception of what a fast computer is.

10 years ago web pages were 10 time smaller than they are now. So even web browsers are getting heavier.

Windows 8, Real impressions from an IT and gamer perspective

I have been using Windows 8 personally since it was released in TechNet.

Now, I want to clarify, that I used and liked Windows Vista, and then I loved Windows 7 when I moved to it a year later.. Because of my work, I try to use new Operative System as they are released and I try to have an open mind. Also because of my work I might not get to do it right away.

Started with Windows Vista

Vista got a lot of bad rep. I used it for over a year until 7 was released, and I never had a problem. It is more, Windows 7 is actually Windows Vista. The reason it got such a bad rep, was because it was installed on top (or side by side) with Windows XP, or in older hardware. Windows Vista required a good spec PC. Now, you could argue all you want about an Operative System that demands more resources, but the reality is, that I almost never consider installing a new OS in an older machine. Save your money, build or buy a better machine and then put the new OS, after all, think about the new features, new this, new that. In  the end the software will be bigger.

Only real problem Vista had, was the non use of 3D hardware for the 3D effects on the desktop.

OSX?

Now, before I go into Windows 8, think about OSX in the Apple Computers. Its current version is 10.8. Since the release of OSX, Apple has been making modification and releasing it under a new name, the latest ones being leopard (10.5), snow leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7), Mountain Lion (10.8). This is Apples biggest factor for growth and also the biggest reason for lack of innovation lately (you can barely tell apart a 10.8 install than from a 5 year older release Leopard (10.5). However users are comfortable with the user interface. Regardless though a lot of the OS actually changes, making it so some programs will not work in 10.7 from 105, or from 10.6 to 10.8. Technically for me the OSX ecosystem is a mess, but the number makes sense considering the graphical changes. Why I am explaining OSX? Because I don’t want anyone later saying “…Apple does this better…” or something like that. If you are happy with an Apple PC, good for you, but they are not perfect and Windows is neither, but we are talking only about software (OS) and not the hardware.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osx For more information about OSX (Apple’s Operative System)

Now, onto the real meat. Windows 8

You might be wondering why I wrote about Windows Vista and OSX if I am writing about Windows 8? Windows 8 got a lot of bad rep before release because we as humans don’t take change well. We like to live on our comfort zone. To accept this change, I am listing very shortly how we got here.

Windows Vista was version 6.0 in the Code (Build 6002: Service Pack 2)

Windows 7 was version 6.1 in the code (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)

Ahh, you can you see where I am going with this?

Windows 8 is 6.2 (Build 9200)

In case you wonder about it, Windows XP was version 5.1.

Comparing to Apple’s naming, Vista would be Leopard, and Windows 7 would be Snow Leopard, while Windows 8 would be Lion. Microsoft and Apple have different release schedules and goals and that accounts why there are different numbers. It does not mean that Microsoft is behind. Windows XP was released 11 years ago in 2001. Vista was released in 2007 (just like Leopard).

Now think what changed in 5 years in Windows. 3 Versions but it went from build code 6002 to 9200. Microsoft took a lot more chances between releases. They could have released an interface that looks like XP and kept going at it. However it would get old soon. Don’t you think? Windows 7 definitively looks a lot more modern than Windows XP, and after working with 7 for 3 years I can happily say when I work in Windows XP I am less productive. Yes, less productive. And here comes the main point

If you learn to love Windows 8 you can be more productive

in 4 days Microsoft will raise the prices for Windows 8. If you have a fast machine that runs Windows 7 great, you have to give Windows 8 a try.

Start Screen. No more Start Menu

First things first. Get over it!! Plain and simple. The start menu is gone. OSX doesn’t have a start menu. It has a launcher and then the Applications folder. In Linux KDE has launcher, Ubuntu’s Unity has also a start screen launcher style. Same for Gnome3. In Linux people also complained about it when KDE switched to version 4, and Gnome from version 2 to 3.

The start screen/launcher makes sense. I will tell you about a problem I had in Windows XP.

I play games and I work in IT, that means my computers (at work and at home) have a lot of programs. My old home PC the start menu spawned 3 rows across the screen (1280×1024 resolution with small icons) And that is considering I tend to change the installation folder for games, and the program menu so they are all under “games”

With so many programs I spent too much time to open a program that I wanted. Regular users bypass this by using the desktop….

The Desktop is not a place to put files. It is a folder, with a special view, and it gets rendered as soon as the computer starts. If you had 200 icons on your desktop in Windows XP, you could see a real difference if you only had 2. The Start Menu only gets rendered when you go to it.

Windows Windows 7 I could start typing the name of a program and it gave me the possible results.

Windows 8 does the same.

The Start Screen is basically the Start Menu but full screen. What is great about it is that you can unpin applications and arrange the applications into groups. My start Screen is arranged in such a way that I can get quickly to anything I need or want.

What about for a regular user? If you clean your start screen then you will never had to scroll. All that you need is right there. As soon as the computer boot, you can go to your favorite application.

The Start screen is touch centric but works as well with keyboard and mouse. I don’t have a touch screen and I love it.

Enter the mobile era

Where the Start Screen shines is with mobile devices, like a tablet or phone. Ubuntu and KDE are also working on projects to have 1 interface for all devices. Think about the advantage. I have an Android phone that I needed to learn to use (it is not difficult though) I have a netbook that had Windows 7 and it was not a pleasant experience. Any I have my computer that I already know how to use and I use every day. If my phone, my tablet, my laptop and my computer all run Windows 8, then I would know how to use instantly all of my devices (with a few exceptions).

Windows RT

Windows RT is what powers tablets with Windows 8. RT is what runs the Start Screen. Any program (app) that can run in the Start Screen of a computer will run in a Windows RT tablet.

Lets be honest, tablets,phones and laptops are getting lighter and more powerful, but they are still not as powerful as the desktop counterparts. One main point is price. Windows Surface has 2 version, the RT which runs in a Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU (Used in tablets with Android 4 as well), and another which will be released in February which will use Intel Core i5. The Pro includes Windows 8 Pro, and can run regular Windows Applications, which basically makes it like a laptop.

The 2 models actually have a big price difference with the RT Version starting at 499$ (599 with keyboard cover), while the pro starts at $899. That is 400$ difference (or $300 if you compare to the 64GB RT Version).

You might be wondering what is the use if you cannot run your Windows applications on a RT tablet? Well, can you run your Windows application in your $399 iPad2? The answer is no.

But the applications you can run in your Windows 8 RT you can run in Windows 8 Pro. It is starting to make more sense.

Be completely fair while checking these products. The average user, and these are most users do generally the same range of activities over and over again, and it is generally consuming Internet content. Facebook, email, youtube, twitter, etc. You might have an app for that, but it in the end it is content that is online in a web page, and that is how the iPad did so well, it cater to those users. Windows RT aims for those users, but helps in the transition. A lot of applications even Sync, so you can run your app in your Surface RT, and then in your regular Windows 8 PC.

The end of the desktop era?

Lots of “technical” web sites have articles predicting the end of the desktop era. Microsoft acknowledges that it won’t happen with Windows 8, but that there is a tendency to separate work. I prefer to read Facebook in a tablet, so I can watch TV or be mobile. However, I will write documents, do network administration and other task that require more typing in a desktop. I could probably do most tasks that I do from a Windows RT tablet, but it would take me a lot longer than from my desktop (the same if I were to use an iPad).

So now that you know the goal. Does Windows RT make sense? Yes it does. And it is a trend that is here to stay, so we better get used to it. And if it makes it more productive, then better.

The Start Screen (RT) Applications (Apps)

Mail

The Mail app is very basic in look, with a high contrast. However one big improvement is that it lets you connect to an Exchange account. At this very moment I have my mail app open and I have my email from work (Exchange 2007), my personal web site (Office 365), Gmail and a Hotmail account. So effectively I don’t need Outlook. Now, the app is very basic, and does not support rules, but in the plus side it looks exactly like outlook.com, so if I go to Outlook.com to check my Hotmail email account, it is the same interface. I actually like the interface, but I do miss the rules. For a free app though it is just what I need to check my work email without having to open OWA (Outlook Web Access).

Music (xbox music)

This is my next favorite app. I suck at new music. I don’t use Pandora, iheart radio and other streaming. Why? because I already have a lot of music that I like. I put on MP3 all my CDs, so over the years I accumulated a lot of music. I have been using Google music because it allows me to put my music in the “cloud” and listen to it from my Android.

The Music app has free streaming in a lot of current music. For example, do you like Adele? You can listen to “21” and “19” for free.  What about Alicia Keys? Eminem, Linkin Park? I am listening now to “The Best of James Bond” as I write this. Every 3 or 4 songs there is a 15 minutes commercial. You can get a music pass and listen free of commercial

Do you like the album, then you can buy it through xbox music service. For example I really like the Skyfall version with Adele so I could purchase it since it is not available for free streaming.

Best of all, is that it integrates with my music in the music libraries. For example. I already have several albums from Linkin Park, so if I click on the featured for Linkin Park, the music that is local to my PC will play from here, no need to stream online and no commercial. So I can play Minutes to Midnight locally and Living Things streaming in the same playlist.

It is supposed to work with the Xbox too, but I haven’t tested it yet.

The only drawbacks I have found is that I cannot rate the music which I can do in Windows Media player. I use the rating a lot to create automatic playlist.

It also took me a while to realize that the search is part of the “charms” (use one of the right corner to bring the charms). I kept trying to just type as I do in the start screen.

It has been a while since I opened Windows Media Player so the music app is good overall.

Games

Have you tried the new minesweeper or solitaire? They look like paid apps now, but are free.

Now because I am a gamer I don’t play app games. They are exclusively for my phone for when I am sitting for a long time (at the doctors office, or other sitting :p),but I do like minesweeper and I spent several hours in one go playing daily challenges. It is a new take on a classic game. Or the Mine Sweeper Hero version.

Other Apps

There are more apps, but I don’t use them as often, and you might use different apps. But in general they work well. I haven’t had a single app crash yet, which is pretty good considering the platform is new.  Most of my Start Screen is shortcuts to regular desktop applications or video games.

The people app in an easy way to check updates from my contacts and not have to check the whole Facebook where you can spend hours just to catch up on 1 day, and I like the way it displays the “Whats new”

The Desktop

This is not RT, but regular Windows. Basically it looks the same as in Windows 7, but without the Start Menu button. I put my own, and I have not used it in months.

I keep my desktops pretty clean, with no icons on it. I like to see my wallpapers.

So for the desktop there isn’t much to comment. It is the same as Windows 7

Applications

Regular applications work as they did in Windows 7. Again nothing much changed.

So What are the changes beside the Start Screen?

Windows 8 is Windows 7 with Start Screen and RT apps. That is the main change, so it makes no sense why so many people think that Windows 8 is bad. I remember when Windows XP came out, people also said it was a bad OS but it ended being the most used Operative System. Windows 98 crashed a lot, and I had to re-install it a couple of times, so I was never a fan of 98.

Windows 8 has better support for Solid State Drives (SSD), and it boots faster. In the exactly same hardware Windows 8 is booting in 45 seconds (Core 2 Duo 8500) compared to 3 minutes that it took for Windows 7 (with a SSD boot drive). Thanks to this, I always turn off my computer instead of using sleep mode.

Windows 8 also includes better driver support. Windows 7 has excellent driver support, but I have a USB wireless card that I need to install the drivers manually but in Windows 8 is automatically detected and installed.

Future for Windows

I expect that Microsoft will keep improving Windows 8, as evident by the updates to the RT apps (They update through the store). With all the new ultrabooks, Windows 8 tablets and Windows phone I think that we will see a more consistent experience. As much as people like to complain about a new system, Windows is used on most computers. It makes total sense to me to get a companion device that works similar to my desktop but that it can use the device features (touchscreen for example).

It is evident that Microsoft will be more on schedule with versions and changes. Windows XP was 6 years old by the time Vista came out, but Windows 7 was released 30 months after. So we can expect Windows 9 in 3 years (or Windows Version 6.3), but it will be the same interface. Microsoft put a lot of effort into RT and it is a good gambit. I personally think it will be successful.

If there is one thing though that I want back is….MY SHUTDOWN ICON. It is easy to add, but it would have been better to be there from the start

In Short

Overall I like Windows 8, and I think it is an improvement over Windows 7. I will not buy any computer without it, or build a computer without it (unless it is a Linux computer), and I think you should seriously consider Windows 8 for your next computer

Windows 8 is not that different from Windows 7, so there is no reason to hold you back. The Start Screen is not a con, but it is a pro of the new Operative System. Unless you have an application that will seriously not work on Windows 8 (So far I only found one application, I already told the company that the lack of update for the application was a poor reflection on the commitment…This company is ADP BTW)

I cannot play Silent Hill 2, in Windows 7, and neither I can in Windows 8, but the game is from 2001, and since I can play it using Wine in my Linux PC I haven’t tried hard either.

On a side note. I love Windows Server 2012 🙂

Windows 8 Versus Windows 7: Game Performance, Benchmarked

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-8-gaming-performance,3331.html

This is a good article for those not sure whether to switch to Windows 8. I have been using it for a while, and it does feel lighter at boot. I moved the desktop tile to the top, so I can get to the desktop with just a quick tap to the enter key.

In the summary it says “Aside from those couple of idiosyncrasies, performance under Windows 8 is indistinguishable from Windows 7. Any speed-up or slow-down would be almost impossible to identify during game play, and we expect compatibility issues to get patched quickly by game developers.”

So, it looks like there isn’t much of a problem switching to Windows 8. Currently the biggest problem is that we as humans don’t take change very well. However that does not affect gaming.

As a personal or business PC, I would still recommend to do the switch, however I would also recommend to invest time into learning the new “Windows Start Screen”, and the whole desktop in general. Even if you don’t have touch screen, the new start screen can be a big addition.

For example, I play video games, and I also use a ton of different programs for work. This makes usually my start menu quite long, and I have to scroll a lot to find the program that I want. With Windows 7 I started pinning to the start menu, and typing the name. Sometimes typing 4 letters of a program name is a lot faster than searching for it with the mouse (most of the time). With Windows 8, I was worried that my home screen was going to be super long. Well, it kind of was, but not for long. See, you can pin programs to the start screen, and you can also unpin them. That does not remove the shortcut from the Apps list, it just removes it from the Start Screen. So I removed everything that I don’t use often, I removed all Uninstall as well (I can still access them the “All Apps”), and I arranged my Start Screen putting the tiles I use the most in the first screen.

The end result is that my computer boots, it goes to the start screen and right from there I can click on the program that I need, be it MS Word, or a racing game.

I have some desktop icons, but honestly I am using them less and less, trying to leave my desktop uncluttered. Also, I have a pseudo Start Menu with all my Programs, but I haven’t used it in months, which means that the Start Screen is easier to use.

How long did it take me to organize my computer? Maybe 1 hour top.

Now, there is 1 thing I don’t like, which is the lack of a easy shutdown button, but there are some good articles online on how to do this

http://blog.laptopmag.com/how-to-shutdown-windows-8-in-just-one-click

http://www.howtogeek.com/77061/how-to-add-shutdown-restart-sleep-to-the-windows-8-metro-start-screen/

Does getting a Mac solve my problems as an entry level user?

I am getting a Mac, what do you think? I am getting a Mac because it does not need antivirus. I am getting a Mac because it does not get malware. I am getting a Mac because it is easier to use. I am getting a Mac because it is faster.

These are questions and statements that I hear a lot, mainly recently. With the iPod launch, Apple has been enjoying more recognition to their brand and ecosystem, then came the iPhone, and finally the iPad (the most successful Apple product yet). This is something that is undeniable, and prompted many users to consider getting an Apple computer.

When people ask me this, I actually have trouble answering without getting too technical. I worked in enough Apple’s computer to admire their engineering, and troubleshooted enough OSX problems to know it is not immune to problems. So lets clarify this a little.

Apple Mac lines (there are multiple lines, like Mac Pro, MacBook, etc) are generally well constructed, with attractive design. This is a big plus for users. They also have excellent engineering inside, where all the space is well used. Most users won’t ever open an Apple computer, and they should not. While this is good, it is also bad. As a technical person, I can’t help to really enjoy the engineering inside, however if I need to replace a part, or troubleshoot then I dread it.

To give you an example. If there is a problem with your motherboard in the Mac Pro, you will have to replace the whole logic board. At this point you are looking at close to $500 just on the board. For a regular PC this is called Motherboard, and starts in $60, and goes to $350 for a gaming quality motherboard. Since a Mac Pro will start in $2500, $500 to fix it seems reasonable. But what about the CPU? Well Mac Pro uses Xeon CPUs, these are server class CPU, and they are priced as such. 90% of users don’t need a Xeon CPU, and could have saved $500 on the CPU cost alone.

The main problem seems to be that consumers forgot what Apple’s computer were built for. Before Apple switched to Intel’s CPU, Apple’s computers were as user friendly as they are now, but their CPU system was specific enough that required that special pricing. If you were working on graphics (3D or Photoshop), the IBM’s PowerPC CPU was a truly parallel RISC processor. To put it in simpler terms, today’s CPUs are not completely truly multitasking, each core/CPU can only work on 1 instruction set at a time, however they switch the instruction set quickly, so it gives the illusion of multitasking. PowerPC’s CPUs could actually work on multiple instruction sets at the same time.

This seems technical, but here is my point. New Apple’s computers are not any better at handling graphics than a Windows based PC is. Myth #1. They used to be, but not anymore, and actually depending on the build, the Windows PC might be faster. A lot of software can now unload work to the video card instead of using the CPU, for example Photoshop CS5.5 can do that, but in Windows with a Nvidia video card. Apple’s Mac Pro use AMD video cards (which are not bad cards at all, but Adobe focused on CUDA, which is proprietary to Nvidia instead of AMD’s use of OpenCL. This again got technical, however remember that a Mac Pro might not be faster than a Windows PC configured with the same hardware.

The second Myth that I will take on is Apple’s computers are easier to use. Easier to use, this is a very personal and subjective term. If you have never used a computer, then I could say that yes, OSX (the Operative System) is easier to use for a new user, however if you had been using Windows for 10 years, it might not be. It will depend on how you use your computer. I can use Windows (from 98 to Windows 7) very well, and I know Windows XP inside out for example. So OSX is actually difficult for me to use. Common tasks are easy enough, but once I get into more advance tasks I have problems in OSX, and this is considering I know how to use Linux. What I usually try to remind users is that a computer is more than a file storage, a Word Document software and a browser, and once you go beyond that is where the differences start.

At the end of the day, Experience is very personal. If you don’t know how to use a computer at all, then a OSX device might be for you, but I don’t think that OSX is easier than Windows 7 to use.

The main thing that drives Mac computers is that the are cool. Again, this is something very personal and subjective. I can deny that they have a nice finish, and are attractive modern computers, but If I paid $2500 in a computer I would expect it to look cool. For example there are a lot of specialty computer companies like Alienware (now Dell), iByuPower, CyberPower, Falcom Northwest (some look amazing). There are companies that have custom painting, like actual paint from Red Ferrari and Yellow Lamborghini. There are companies that can custom engrave the cases, and add gold plates. If anything, Apple’s computers are too common now.

The main point to remember is that an Apple Computer uses OSX as the Operative System, and a Windows PC uses Windows 7 (soon Windows 8) Operative System. An Operative System is like an application that talks with your computer’s hardware so you can use the computer. Operative System’s now also include a lot of applications to make the brand new computer more useful. The move from Apple to start using Intel’s CPU (x64 architecture) means that OSX is more compatible with Windows applications and developers can make software that works in Windows and OSX, however software still needs to be written for OSX. Most applications are written for Windows first, and then OSX. OSX has a lot of applications available, but it remains a small fraction of Windows applications.

So, Apple’s computers are different than Windows Computers and use different programs.

This is also a valid point for viruses and malware. The reason that OSX has less malware written for it (there is still malware written for OSX) is that “hackers” write the viruses for the biggest target. 95% of the world’s computers run Windows. The same concept software companies use, would be malware writers use it as well. So, OSX does have less malware, but because the market for OSX is quite small. In this case, Linux operative system have even less risk of malware than OSX.

PRICE. This is a big issue. You will pay a premium for a Apple computer. The computer will have to be serviced at the Apple’s store as well most of the time. Do not take your computer to a friend, because it can be messed up worst. Because you will be taking the computer for repair to the Apple’s Store, you need to consider this in the price as well. You also have to consider that a lot of the problems with OSX are fixed by re-installing the operative system. Reinstalling the Operative System will of course fix any problem with Windows and Linux as well, but it seems that OSX users complain less about having their computers wiped out and brought back to “factory defaults”

This bring up the point that backing up a OSX is as important as a Windows Computer. So no difference there.

Coming back to the price point, lets look at the hardware. This is a big part of what constitutes the cost.

The iMac starts in $1200 for a 21.5” Core i5 with 4 GB of RAM. This price is actually not bad, except that a comparable Windows PC, like this Asus All in one have twice the amount of RAM and hard drive, and faster processor, bigger screen and the monitor is multi touch. I actually have 2 of these on my desk, and they are very nice computers (I paid even less than $1000).

The Mac Pro the difference is more evident. The cheapest model starts in $2500. This model is overkill for most users. You will have to really be a graphics professional to use all that power. These computers weight about 45 lbs. Sure, they are fast, but not well spec’ed for a regular user. The hardware on the Mac Pro is actually server class hardware. The Xeon line of CPU is what we use on the servers in the server room.

For example, the Xeon on the entry model Mac Pro is a Xeon W3565, priced at a little over $300. This CPU is old by now, and easily outmatched by a Intel Core i5 which is only $200. More expensive models have a higher difference, making them even less value choices.

So from the very beginning when you are selecting one of these models, they are over featured, over specified, and over priced. This is not the case for all users, but will be for most.

Lets consider  general use of a computer. It will be mainly web browsing, even email might be completely browser based (gmail, AOL, hotmail, etc), you will play some music, and pictures. Office documents, like spreadsheets and word, and watching some videos.

The only heavy part is watching videos. If the videos are local, then it needs to decode. If the video is online like YouTube, Netflix or Hulu, then it needs to download, decompress and decode. This is probably the heaviest tasks. While these services work on OSX, consider that Netflix uses Silverlight, which is a technology from Microsoft. It does work on Mac, but only supported on Safari and Firefox. Hulu uses Flash and the future of Flash in uncertain in OSX. iOS (iphone and iPad) do not support Flash for example. For local videos, like avi and mkv you will have to install the same software as in Windows (VLC), but I will still probably use a Windows PC for this (the players, and codecs are updated more often).

The main different is how people use a OSX (apple) and a Windows computer. In Windows because of the amount of programs available, it is more likely that a Windows PC will end up with a lot of unnecessary programs, while since OSX does not have so many software as available it will stay closer to the factory set. When you install too many programs in a Windows PC that is when you can start noticing the computer to slow down or unreliable. I have worked with OSX computers that had the same problem, and had software crashes. You are just less likely too install too much in the OSX

Summarizing, to compare a Apple computer, you need to compare to the same hardware in Windows, and even at that point Windows will be cheaper, also if you use the Windows and OSX PCs the same way, both will be as secure and reliable. At the end of the day, it is a personal choice, and a preference. I play video games, so I cannot use a OSX. Although OSX supports a lot of games (or a lot of games started supporting OSX) it is still a small percentage. If I had to chose, I would use Windows, otherwise Linux and finally OSX.

If you will only use the computer for general web activities a Mac might be for you. If you are ok with only using the Apple store for support then the Mac is also for you.

However, at the end of the day, regardless of the choice and preference, it is important to understand the differences between Operative system. I am not defending Windows, and OSX does have its place on specific conditions, but 90% of the people that say they need a Mac, they could have used anything. The important part, is that you are happy with your purchase, and that you do not compare a $1200 MacBook to a $500 Windows PC (I would take the Windows in that case Smile ) because they are different builds. In most cases, you as the end user would have more than enough power in the $500 computer, but you are also more likely to take better care of a computer that cost $1200.

I do not want to start a discussion on fan based OSX vs Windows as actually I consider them pretty non-based on actual facts. At the end of the day, it is a preference (which I stated at least 4 times) but a Windows PC will be cheaper, and more productive. Most OSX users could do with a tablet most of the work. And when people recommend solutions like boot camp, then it completely invalidates the use of OSX in the first place (why would you install Windows inside a OSX, instead of getting a Windows PC in the first place?), and once you get to that level I have to say “You should know better”, and if you can do that, and support both OS then probably you don’t need to read an understand my points. I had this conversation with people that love and swear by Mac software. It is great to be a fan of something, but objectively I barely hear good reasons for their fanatics.

Finally I have to disclaim that I do own a G4 Mac (dual PowerPC 800Mhz) with OSX 10.5 installed. This PC is pretty slow for todays standard, but it still works great, and works fine for web browsing. It is a 8 year old PC now. However, it is too slow for youtube, netflix or Hulu. Any $500 laptop will be faster than the PC. The days were a PC was supposed to last 5 or more years have passed. The likely useful life of a computer is 2 years, before it is too slow for new content.

 

PS: I was cheking some of my old magazines and CPU has an article about boutique cpmputers. Check it out here

http://www.computerpoweruser.com/DigitalIssues/ComputerPowerUser/CP____1206__/

The computers range from $4700 to $1500, and BTW the $1500 CyberPowerPC Zeus Lightning 3000 looks pretty sweet

A+ Exams: 20 Potential ‘Gotchas’ To Watch Out For

I got this article on one of the newsletters I received. While some points are obvious, others make a lot of sense for people thinking on taking the A+

Source: http://certcities.com/editorial/columns/story.asp?EditorialsID=469

A+ Exams: 20 Potential ‘Gotchas’ To Watch Out For

Even if you’re already familiar with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, there are a couple of differences between the three OSes that could trip you up when you take the A+ exam. Here are some key points to consider.

by Emmett Dulaney 

7/25/2012 — With the CompTIA A+ exams revising to 220-801 and 220-802, there are three operating systems you must know (and all the various iterations of each) to pass the questions asked: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. If you’ve used any of the three OSes for a reasonable duration, you are familiar with navigation and the main tools you need to use on a regular basis.

The items that can trip you up are the idiosyncrasies and utilities you don’t interact with that much. While not intended to be inclusive, here is a list of 20 items to make sure you’re not thrown by:

  1. When it comes to 32- and 64-bits, know that you can run 32-bit software on 64-bit hardware, but you cannot mix 64-bit software with 32-bit hardware. x64 is also referred to as AMD64 since AMD defined the 64-bit instruction set used today.
  2. In Windows 7, the Quick Launch area was replaced with a mechanism where commonly used programs can be pinned to the Task Bar. After Windows XP, the Search option on the Start menu disappeared as well in favor of the Search box directly on the menu. Within that Search box, you can quickly find commands by typing into the field and letting the system display matching commands (or files, or most anything else).
  3. Press Ctrl-Shift-Enter to run a command as Administrator. For example, type CMD into the find field on the Search menu, then press Ctrl-Shift-Enter to run a command window with Administrator privileges (Windows Vista/7  — partially through the UAC — discourages the user of administrative privileges other than when system operations are performed.)
  4. There is a key difference between sleep and hibernation. Sleep (often used on laptops) leaves everything in memory, then all other devices except memory are powered down. The time to resume work is almost instantaneous. Hibernation copies everything out of memory to disk and then everything — including memory — is powered down. To resume work, the PC is booted but everything is loaded back into memory so you can start where you left off. There is also a hybrid used on desktops that copies everything out of memory then turns everything off except the memory. This means the PC can start very quickly but if power is lost it can do a resume from hibernation back to the state it was in before it went to sleep.
  5. NTFS file names can have multiples of any allowed character in them — including periods. You are forbidden from using  / \ > < | ? * ; "
  6. Remote Assistance permits people to access this system in response to requests issued by the local user using the Windows Remote Assistance tool. Remote Desktop, on the other hand, permits people to log into the system at any time using the Remote Desktop Connection tool.
  7. Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 use the WinRE recovery environment to do a complete PC Restore to achieve the same goal as Automated System Recovery (ASR) in Windows XP.
  8. There are subtle name changes between OSes as to what they call applets and tools. For example, what Windows XP calls "Performance," Windows Vista calls "Reliability and Performance Monitor" and Windows 7 calls "Performance Monitor." Similarly, OSes from Windows Vista on display — by default — a user-friendly screen for the Control Panel. Clicking on Classic View will show all the available Control Panel items. The view that you use makes a difference in how you access the applets.
  9. The default directory for the Windows folder is C:\WINDOWS. On a standard Windows 7 and Windows Vista installation, the /BOOT directory holds the boot file configuration for Windows. Boot logging in Windows XP creates the NTBTLOG.TXT file in the %SYSTEMROOT% folder (usually C:\WINDOWS).
  10. An upgrade preserves the existing applications and user data moving them into the new system. A clean installation either wipes the old system or replaces the existing system putting the old files into the folder WINDOWS.OLD.
  11. Microsoft Windows User State Migration Tool (USMT) allows you to migrate from one OS/machine to another such things as user files settings related to applications, Desktop configuration, and accounts and is intended for large installations and v2.6 required domain controller access, while v3.0 does not (you do need domain controller access to transfer domain accounts). Windows Easy Transfer (WET) is more appropriate for smaller installations. Obviously, if you’re doing an in-place upgrade, you don’t need either option since user files and applications are preserved. One other key difference between the two is that USMT allows transfers to be scripted whereas WET uses a GUI which requires user interaction.
  12. Windows Anytime Upgrade does not exist in Windows XP, but in Vista/7, it allows you to upgrade from one edition of the operating system to another.
  13. PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) is a mechanism to allow you to boot a PC over the network rather than from a DVD, USB, or hard disk.
  14. The Power User group in Windows 7/Vista has no more rights than a standard user. The group has only been left in the OS in order to provide backward compatibility.
  15. When configuring network settings for a client, you can configure them to obtain an IP address and corresponding values dynamically or enter static values. It is ONLY if values are dynamic that you have the ability to set an Alternate Configuration.
  16. BitLocker encrypts the whole volume and whatever is stored it (whereas EFS encrypts one or more files or folders on a volume). While BitLocker benefits from the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), it doesn’t need it. It can also be operated using a USB drive to store the encryption keys.
  17. During installation, selecting for the workstation to join a workgroup has no real implications. Choosing for it to join a domain, however, requires you to provide account authentication to join the computer to the domain.
  18. TASKLIST is used at the command line to see a list of the running processes similar to what you can see in the GUI by using Task Manager. By default, it shows the processes on the current machine, but the /S switch can be used to see the processes on a remote machine. The /SVC switch will show the services hosted in each process and you can use /U if you need to run the command as another user (/P allows you to specify a password to be associated with that user).
  19. TASKKILL is used to terminate processes. Those processes can be identified by either name (/IM) or process ID number (/PID) and the process can exist on the machine where the administrator is sitting (the default) or on another machine — in which case you signify the other machine by using the /S switch.
  20. In the world of Microsoft solutions to virtualization, Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 for Windows Vista and Windows XP is popular, as is Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7. XP Mode is a free emulator from Microsoft that you can download and it supplies a pre-configured virtual machine which is run in the Windows Virtual PC emulator (the hypervisor).

The value of Backup and Data

I have been bad….Very BAD!!!

When I started the blog, my second article was about home backups. I started writing in and before I knew it was too long. My problem was that I was covering too much ground, and too much information was fresh in my mind.

Well, after my article in NMS I decided to write this article, which will initiate a series of backup articles. Why a series? Because there is too much information that I need to give you, and I don’t want to bore you too much, but backup is so important and people give it so little importance that I MUST convey the information.

What is the Value of Data?

This is more than anything a question you need to ask yourself. The data that is important for me, might not be important for you. And Value is even harder to assign. However there is a some easy points to quantify it.

  • Can you reproduce the data?
  • Is it easy to host someplace else?
  • How vital is to have it available?
  • What is the damage if the data is loss (economical and emotional damage)
  • How often you need it?

None of these questions by themselves can put value on data, but all together can. For example, the perfect picture of the first birthday of your first child. You might not look at the picture all the time, but if lost forever, you will remember that picture and be sad about it (emotional value). However because it is a picture, it also probably is hosted in Picasa, Flicker, Facebook or another social media. Maybe not with the same quality, but at least you could save it from there if lost from your computer. In the other hand, lets say your QuickBooks database for your small/home business. Maybe it won’t slow you down a lot if lost, but could have several repercussions when tax season arrives.

Now that we have an idea how to assign value to data we should…

Assigning Value to Backup

The Value of the backup is proportional to the value of the data. It sounds like a lot of mathematical terms, but simply, if the data is very valuable (or invaluable) to you, then the backup is as well. VERY SIMPLE, No?

Although this is simple, I am still amazed to find out most people don’t backup regularly. I know I don’t backup most things at home almost never, however, most of the data I don’t care for (even though I have TB of data), and the data I care about I have it in my desktop, my laptop, my work PC, my old PC. It is a mess, but if needed I can recover most of it.

This mess of data also brings another value for the backup. The backup will organize your data. It is more is a consequence of backing up, but when you start to plan and put in effect a backup plan, you also end up organizing your data, which later will save you time when you are searching for it.

Extra benefits of backup

When setting a backup you will have plenty of benefits, some are more visible than others, however these are the ones I can think of right now:

  • Data can be recovered
  • Data will be replicated
  • Data will be organized
  • Data will be centralized
  • Multiple versions of the same data (*1)
  • When replacing computer, moving data is easier
  • Backup can be backup again (maybe to cloud, offline, remote)

(*1) It depends on the backup, but at least you have 1 older version of a file. Some backups support more than one version. If a file becomes corrupted, or you save a change that you want to undo later, an older version is the solution.

Thinking about value

Unless you do all your work online, and you don’t care about data, there is always something you won’t want to lose in your computer. Backing up is important, and have extra benefits beyond being able to recover data, and the value of the backup is the same as the data, or even greater in most cases.

So, do you value your data? And are you backing up your data?