Netbook: Win7. It works.

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Three or four years back, there was such a thing called netbook. Inexpensive, smaller and lighter, with slower processor that meant to be used by students and light users. Since then iPad and tablets have put nails in its coffin.

However, what to do if you still have one and worse than anything else, it is running on defuncted WinXP (Microsoft no longer supports it).

Finally, I took the courage and upgraded my Gateway LT31 with Win7. Now I feel like having a brand new netbook.

Why did I postpone or wait? Because Microsoft’s Win7 upgrade readiness application told me that if I were to do it, there could have been missing drivers, blah, blah, blah. I remember checking Gateway’s site before, it wasn’t promising that they provided them(I must have overlooked).

The process was surprising straight-forward: put in the upgrade disc, boot from it, and follow the instructions. It will collapse your old Windows files to a folder called Windows.old, where you can get to files that you might have saved in different users’ folders. So your documents are saved after the upgrade, just that you need to know where to look for them: Find Users and Documents.

After all the steps was finished, the system ran exceptionally fast! Then I loaded all the most current drivers from Gateway, including flashing BIOS. Followed that were the software: Malewaresbytes, Microsoft Essential, CCleaner, Avast, and MS Office suite. It slowed things down for sure, but still with respectable respond. I also turned off Aero theme and put it in Classic to save on CPU power.

When the announcement came out that Microsoft no longer supported WinXP in 2013, I did venture back to Ubuntu. Version 12 was an improvement and quite user-friendly, but I ran into display driver problem, and gave up on finding a solution. So I still don’t get Linux as an OS; it will never have popular appeal, sorry. I am talking about trying to like it since Corel Linux in 1998.

Lesson learned: Microsoft just wants you to buy new machine! Resist…your older machine is likely still useable even with newer OS. Win7 is probably the best MS OS out there now.

Cheers.

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Networking Win-Xp with Win-7

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If you still have Win-Xp machine(s) around in your household and want to network them with your Win-7 machine(s), it is not hopeless. Here are the steps. Oh it only took me an entire afternoon to figure out with googling and trials and errors, so it should be easy for you now.

Before I get to the steps, you need to understand the architect behind the two systems are  totally different. I believe Win-7 is built on the more stable corporate platform Win2000, so its networking methodology is certainly different from Win-Xp, which derived from Win98…

Differences:

1. Win-7 connection with Homegroup of other Win-7 machine is easy as long as you name it correctly in all machines. Miraculously even media sharing is quite easy to set up, i.e., PS3. There is something called media sharing in network sharing to enable that function.

2. Win-Xp has NO Homegroup,  but Workgroup. So before with an all Win-Xp network, you did the same naming all machines with same name like the Win-7 above, and you will be able to shares drives and map them if you wanted to…

Steps:

1. Do the same and consider Homegroup and Workgroup are the same thing, so name them identical so that all machines despite OS version will find each other.

2. If you do it correctly, you should see on either machine its Network Center(7) / My Network Places (Xp) displaying named PC/laptop, at this point, if you click on it, likely, it will say “…talk to your administrator” or “… need permission”

3. Most important: on Win-Xp machine, right click on the folder or drive will give you the option of “sharing”, the thing is “Network sharing and security” is turn-off, so turn it on, if it isn’t so. Then as usual click on “Share this folder on the network”. On Win-7 machine look at the setting of rights of Public Doucments . That’s how I finally figured out to get files from my Win-7 machine, cause it showed up on my Win-Xp automatically, and I had no problems getting to files. On the other hands, other folders gave me “… talk to administrator…”, until  I put “Everyone” in the rights  in “Choose people to share with…”.  To get there:  Right-click on folder you want to share, Select Share with / Advance Settings. The share drive should be //xxxx.xxx  , click Share button will bring to the “Choose people to share with…”

4. Caveat: I haven’t set up password for folders yet, so you may have researched this if you want to make sure no one can hack into your networked folders.

There you have it, as usual Microsoft !!

P.S. I remember in the 80s, a regular phone cable is all you need to network two Mac Classics, and you just had to set rights of what each could see or not see.

Cheers.

Windows 8 – neat!

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Finally I got it installed on my old laptop that I was thinking of throwing out! So the good news is that, at least, the preview version will work on the minimum requirements it set out: 1GHz, 1or 2 GB RAM. Mine is 1.6 and 4.

There is a bit of learning curve to find where things are (10 mins), cause the familiar “Start” button is no longer, kind of. Instead there is a start mini-screen now, left bottom corner, that I find it is sometime hard to get to, it disappears if the mouse is not in the right place. On top left, mini screen(s) will open for your previously open windows, that you can point and go to: like the Aero in Vista and Windows 7 that I never use. However, this is a bit more intuitive.

I have seen the Windows Phone layout in commercial, so I know how it looks. First, you have large rectangular tiles and half-size ones of various colours. Each is like an icon, or app (that’s what it’s called), and you can certainly move them around. If the app is about weather, current weather will display, and if it is news, the pages will change on the tile, etc. So it means screen-savers can be a thing of the past. There is a little zoom button on bottom left that will allow you to shrink the start page, I assume this will help if you have lots of apps. Right mouse button click on start page will get you the All App, that’s where you find those familiar things like control panel, calculator, computer, etc.

The Desktop tile will get you into a page where the IE icon and Windows Explorer is on a taskbar. To get to the settings, you can point your mouse to the bottom left, five transparent icons will show: zoom,share,start, devices and settings. Inside settings, more pc settings give you more choices and the selections look prettier than the old control panel, which you can still get to BTW.

Since Microsoft really wants to promote cloud-computing, you now even can connect directly to Window -Live when log-in, so to save a step. Once connected, your email and calendar tiles will show you if you have new mail and appointments.

There is an app-store, it’s just called Store. Same premise, some are free, some are not, like Mac’s and Android’s.

After installation, I didn’t seem to have driver issues. My USB wireless adaptor is working, webcam is working, and so forth.

So far I like it, it’s different enough from all previous Windows versions, which mostly were the same from Windows 98 to Windows 7, am I right? It works well with a mouse, but it should be interesting with a touch device like tablet, or Windows coffee table (using the table top as monitor)? I still need to be convinced for a touch desktop ( Acer and HP had tried it) though: who want to stand and swipe all day long?

Cheers.

P.S. still looking for the shut-down button without logging out as user first.

Windows 8 consumer preview(free)

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April 9, 2012: Okay, it is installing now. I am using the 32-bit from DVD boot. After you key in the product key, use “CUSTOM” install, and not “Standard”! Using that gives you an option to partition your drives as well. We’ll see how it goes!

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As usual I don’t want to bash Microsoft, when we must use it for our daily work-life and most likely at home too, but a good consumer product is good when a consumer doesn’t get frustrated!

Okay, I read somewhere this morning that Microsoft has Windows 8 consumer preview for free download. After reading the fine print, I was hesitant to download it on my new laptop, cause the install will wipe your existing OS and you must re-install from recovery if you decide Windows 8 is not your cup of tea. After a while, I pulled out my old HP tx1100ca, blow-dried it again, and it booted,so I figured it would be fun and cool to do it. Went to the site http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download downloaded the ISO image,burn to a DVD disc, and I thought the installation should be easy. Ah ha, think again!

First hurdle: there were two choices, 32-bit and 64-bit, since it was an older laptop I figured best I used the 32-bit version. The download file size was 3.2 GB, and took about 30 mins to download, guess the server had throttle control, so transfer rate was at about 1,100 kb/sec (yawn …zzzzzz). Finally, I burnt the image using Roxio… Okay, everything was good. I re-booted the computer, and DVD was in,changed boot from DVD and all was good. I managed to put in the purchase key, and then it said I needed to boot while Windows 7 was running, why? Since I could not proceed, I boot to Windows 7 and run setup, and then it said, my Windows 7 64-bit was not compatible with the 32-bit Windows 8. Really!

Second hurdle: Since I had time, I downloaded the 64-bit version which was at 3.5 GB. Patiently I had the image burnt. Ran it inside Windows 7, it gave me two error messages, so no go. Re-boot, blah, blah, same process above. Now it got to a point and said, “Load Driver: A DVD driver your PC needs is missing. If you have a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive with the driver on it, please insert it now. Note: If the installation media for Windows is in the DVD drive, you can safely remove it for this step”. Seriously !!!! Laptop has CD/DVD driver for over 10 years, and Microsoft was asking me to find a freaking driver for my DVD-ROM, and burnt it and continued with the process?! Maybe I had missed a step to get the drivers first from Windows 7 ( like MAC boot-camp that creates a drivers -disc first), but I doubt Microsoft is that thoughtful or thorough.

At this point, I give up, that’s after three hours tinkling with it! Who cares about Windows 8. Now even Ubuntu Linux does it right: we can create a boot-able disc with totally useable OS, and only if one likes it he can install it on a new partition or wipe out Windows altogether. As I say at the beginning, we have to keep using something that is popular-mediocre just because.

Perhaps, someone who is reading this can enlighten me with the installation. Wait, I hardly interest in messing with this new OS, 7 is fine.

Cheers.