Monday, 6 September 2010

What I did for my Summer vacations or How I migrated to Windows 7

Yes yes I know, it's only been since the third ep of Sherlock aired that I went missing, but I think you need to know why an opinionated person such as myself has been silent for what seems an eternity to me.

A while ago I heard a report that Windows XP would no longer be supported by security updates or online driver services. This news came to me as a hammer blow being a loyal XP user for as long as it's been around. I studiously avoided Vista and only grudgingly bought a previously  loved lappy with Vista. So it was with regret and great sadness I made the trek to my computer gadgee Lamine. Asked him to upgrade both comps to Windows 7 and could he do it with as little fuss as possible?! That was a month ago like. So I here I sit with two machines that are finally up to almost acceptable standard, only now pouring out words gasping to be written for so long. So what happened you ask, well even if you aren't asking, I'll tell you.

The first machine , the one with XP on, kept crashing when the new OS software was installed. Two weeks later and many tweaks later, I got the Acer back and began the long job of resetting the look content and utility of the laptop to pre upgrade perfection. If you haven't spent a week installing software, inputting saved bookmarks and passwords on top of restoring files saved over a lifetime ( in my case since the tinternet was made easy to get), then you haven't been tortured properly. The one silver lining in all of this was that the Acer could now connect to the internet from a cable ( more on this in a minute). I could of used the other machine I hear you say...And you'd be right. But we are not alone using a computer, I had to let my wife do her things as well. So that was any real productive time shot to hell. Now the newer Vista infested laptop went in. Piece of piss you're thinking...won't be a problem. Well it was. took an age to get the machine back when it turned out he couldn't just upgrade from the hated, reviled, unloved Vista. I had to back up all my data and bring the computer back. At least it went faster this time. No crashes, no nothing. Well almost nothing. Got the machine home and  spent the prerequisite week restoring my vision of perfection. However, during this week I discovered that the hitherto Shangrila like Windows 7 had a hick. Seems some wireless LANs don't seem to work on W7. So now I still have a comp that only connects one way, but now it's the Sony that won't go wireless. I'm told there's a patch on the way, but I still haven't found it.

So how are the old new computers doing? It could be worse and it could be better. The machine that was XP'd can now properly mirror on the telly. This is huge, as for donkeys years we've wanted to watch films and other things on the telly in the kitchen. One of the benefits of W7 is also the canny magnification feature that easily allows recently deprived 20/20 types and older people to read things without resort to specs.  Now while these featured and many more are in Vista, unlike Vista, W7 does not go stupid and keep asking you 30k times for permission to turn off applications. I'm no engineer, but it feels like the damn thing is learning how we use our computers and adapting. I still hate voice activated functions. My English is such a dog's breakfast of accents and words that I think it will take longer to teach the comp than the machine will be of any use. Imagine me dictating in Word some text that include the words gan, dalek, pierog, kielbasa or kvetch. I tried that for fun and the poor thing didn't even get Newcastle United right. Giving it orders in my voice and vocabulary is definitely out of the question. I'm imagining with great amusement great armies of Geordies, Scousers, Brummies and my wife's relations in Brooklyn trying to instruct a machine.  

One of the best reasons to  move toW7 is the simple fact that Firefox, the world's best browser, is developing version 4 on the back of W7. Even now the Beta 4.4 runs better and almost never crashes. It would be nice to see the Adobe/Java script errors sorted sooner than later. It seems the platforms are not taking into account these programmes or Adobe is just not keeping up. Java script is the only real problem that persists in ruining what is otherwise the pop up free, user friendliest browsing experience around.  Speaking of open source freeware, Open Office has replaced Office Suite. Just as good, often updated and compatible to most of our correspondents. I'll be replacing Windows Media player as soon as I can as well. As a long time proponent of being able to "open up" and tinker with my OS, I love the less than complicated path you take to personalise the regional and basic settings. Mirroring or as I call it, watching the computer on telly, is dead easy. The personalization toys available are a treat, I have unashamedly played with them for at least a day.  Still not clear on how to make a home network , as I'm not a Wizard robe wearing IT type. My mate has been duly bribed with a large meal to set up our network and shared printer.We expect him any day soon.

On the whole it was worth the effort and the money. But I'm glad I did it when I had a month to devote it. Only last night I spent the better part of 2 hours restoring a stack of mp3 discs to the hard drive. It's not the 6,000 plus tunes I had a few years ago, but at least we now have the music library that any ageing activist/anarchist/footie/socialist would be comfortable with if not proud of. Still need to restore my celtic rock, punk, ska and indie rock files lost to mates not returning things. What I find amazing was the amount of Goth wrist slitting rubbish I used to listen to. Not binning Muse, but most of the HIM will have to go. How depressed do you have to be listen to that? Equally embarrassing was the file filled with bad 80's pop music. I swear I have no idea how it got there. On high note, Mr Spock singing the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, Weird Al, including the Bohemian Rhapsody polka, along with AC/DC and the Beatles are back in pride of place.

If you've been putting off upgrading to W7, don't wait any more. Microsoft have gone out of the way to make us happy this time. Make the move now before you to have to loose a month of computer time.

As always, this blog brought to you by Nick Robert's "Beat Surrender"" heard every Saturday evening on BBC Radio Newcastle.

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