Recommended Reading for December 14th

Here are some recent posts, sites or articles I’ve found worth a read – you might enjoy them too:

Have suggestions or comments? Leave them below!

The Computers are at it again…

I’ve posted before about how people put far too much trust in their computer-based devices and how one day it could even spell the end for us all… Via Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter feed another case popped up on my radar today:

A computer consultant apparently put too much faith in the GPS technology in his rental car: It didn’t tell him to look both ways before driving onto tracks as a train barreled toward him.


Innocent mistake or carefully calculated encounter at the hands of our silicon-based “friends”? ;)

The Accidental Vista Upgrade

So I bet you’re scratching your head… “How exactly does someone accidentally upgrade to Vista?”

The answer is actually pretty simple. You recognize you need a new laptop, poke around online to see what’s there, spec something on DELL, lose that spec so you try to remake it, Christmas happens, work happens, life happens and then you order your new system – completely forgetting — despite the $500M spent to remind you — that it is also the same day Microsoft Vista was released.

So on Monday my shiny new Dell Inspiron 6400 arrived, complete with Vista Business Edition and a beautiful 15.4″ SXGA+ Screen that I can’t stop staring at (my wife already hates this machine given the fact I think I’ve been looking at it more than her this week).

Initial Thoughts

The first boot-up was actually a mysterious series of events. It started asked me a couple of questions, and then…. Nothing, it just kind of sat there, no feedback, nothing. After a few minutes it’s head must have nodded because it came alive and started making visible progress again. At a few more points it seemed to just get lost in it’s own dual-core processing mind and forget to keep me informed what it was up to. A little unnerving.

Can I Boss?

Vista is an awfully insecure system, not unsecure in a security way, INSECURE. It needs validation, affirmation and reassurance on a regular basis. A typical interaction when you run an install etc.

Me: /double-clicks/ “Do this…”

Computer: Thinks, flashes the screen and gives me a dialogue box “You’re asking to do this, do you want to do this?”

Me: /clicks “continue”/ “Yes.”

Every.single.time – turn it off and you get no warnings at all.

Apple nails the oddity perfectly.

Other Oddities

Being a new system (i.e. new hardware) I think I’m getting off easy on the compatibility front. So far I’ve only had one driver be disabled due to incompatibility with Vista. Vista assures me though that Microsoft will let me know when a new one is available. Aside from popping up a message asking if I want to check for new versions of the driver I’m not sure what else it plans to do.

I also couldn’t get the Bluetooth card put in yet as apparently the driver support isn’t ready yet for that. Not the end of the world though, for me this would have been my first integrated Bluetooth stuff so it’s not like I depends on it.

I think I’ve also got a DVD driver issue but haven’t had time to sort it out yet. It’ll play discs for a minute or two and then tell me it can’t play it because the region on the player doesn’t match the disc.

Zip is also ridiculously slow… 10MB was estimated to take 15min to unpack! I found, downloaded and installed another program and unpacked the file and Vista was still stuck at 15 minutes. What is up with that?

Turning it Off

Where is the “Ask” option??? In Vista the power button, lid close and Start menu power buttons are all configurable based on whether or not you’re plugged in on battery – but there’s no option to have it ask you what you want to do anymore. So after initially configuring the power settings I discovered that I now had no (obvious) way to actually shut the machine down as everything was set to “sleep” instead. In a nutshell it appears if you don’t want to jump through hoops you need to set one of your power buttons permanently to shut down and the others to sleep. Odd.

That said with the length of battery life on this machine I suspect I’ll rarely ever shut it down entirely (unlike my last system which seemed to be able to drain it’s battery while sleeping at a phenomenal pace)

High Points

Vista looks great. The everything fading, soft transitions aren’t nearly as annoying as I thought they would be. I actually really like the look & feel – although I think this screen certainly makes a huge difference too.

Not Vista so to speak but I’m really digging Office 2007’s “ribbon” interface – I can see it being really powerful once I get my bearings a little better.

The happiest accidental discovery though is certainly Microsoft OneNote (which I’m writing this in right now). Wow. Intuitive, easy to use, great interface and does just what I need it to. In a nutshell OneNote has been designed as a digital notebook (the paper kind). You can have multiple notebooks and tabbed sections within them that have pages. I’ll do a more thorough post on this later but if you have Office 2007 and you’ve been wondering just what OneNote is defenitely boot it up, you won’t be dissapointed.


Well, still only a few days in so hard to make concrete conclusions – overall I’m really happy with Vista. I’m not convinced my system is running at it’s full potential yet so I’ll have to dig around for some Vista tweak.

I would certainly suggest getting it on any new systems that you buy but would highly recommend that unless you bought your system in the last couple of months hold off. When Vista is running at full tilt it consumes RAM like someone who just got food after being stuck in the wilderness for a few weeks – sitting here right now, running only OneNote it’s chewing through 40-50% of my 2GB. I’m sure I can optimize that down a bit, but still 1GB just to idle?

I’ll follow up in a few weeks with how I’m finding the system and what other quirks pop-up.

It’s Beginning….

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

GPS leads man off cliff

A MAN who died in a New Year’s Eve cliff fall after becoming lost in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park was believed to be following directions provided by a GPS satellite navigation device when he went over the edge.
The 31-year-old Toukley man had been searching for a walking track in the national park, near Oberon in the state’s Central West, when he fell.

Inspector Steve Hall from Bathurst police said yesterday the group was believed to have been using the GPS device but it was unclear who had been carrying it at the time of the accident.

Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)

Sure, he wasn’t in a car, but still. Perhaps a cleverly disguised BETA test?

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