Your Graphics Card Sucks

I know that there are plenty of people out there that will vouch against what I am about to say, so if you are one of those, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

While running Windows XP Professional, my graphics card performed as a Radeon 9800 Pro (I actually have an ATI Radeon 9800se – the card that ATI knows nothing about). Thanks to a software modification, I was able to have my Radeon 9800se function as a Radeon 9800 Pro, and boy what a difference did it make! Staggering frame rates in all my games, including Half Life 2 and associated games! Needless to say, I was happy I had been a cheap skate, and bought the 9800se from eBay. Up until installing Windows Vista Ultimate, and a couple of games, my 9800se reborn, was “the ownage” in my little world. Come now the days of my Windows Vista adventure, and my 9800se reborn, plays games the same games like a 16MB Voodoo 2.

In other words, my graphics card now totally SUCKS the big one!!!1111. Even though I downloaded the Vista software modification, the resulting increase in performance was only that of a slight percentage, and for the first time (in regards to my graphics card), it caused my system to become unstable, and even blue screen! Yes! Vista has blue screens!

It seems that Windows Vista, really claims a lot of your video memory, just to run Windows, especially with Windows Aero enabled. Which is interesting, considering the same effects, in fact, even cooler and better effects, can be run on a 16MB voodoo 2, on a machine running Fedora 7, with Beryl/Compiz installed.

More RAM Please

While sitting idle with just the weird looking side bar and a couple of explorer windows open, my RAM utilisation is at 70% – That’s 700MB of DDR PC2700 (333Mhz) RAM, out of 1GB, being used just by Windows Vista. That’s before I open or run any programs. That is A LOT!

Are You Sure?

I’m not entirely sure why Microsoft implemented User Account Control, but it was one of the first features I Googled to disable. Every time you want to do something, you have to get permission from Windows. For example, Just accessing the general computer information (accessible by clicking “Show More Details ” on the Welcome Screen (if you have that enabled still) will force you to get permission from Windows first. Why do I need permission to do just about anything on my computer, if I am already using an Administrator account? I would hate to be using a standard account. Probably have to ask permission just to click the new fan-dangle start menu!

For those of you who want to know how to disable User Account Control:

  1. Make your way to the control panel, and click “User Accounts”
  2. Click the option “Turn User Account Control on or off”
  3. Untick the box “Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer”
  4. Click OK
  5. Close the “User Accounts” window.
  6. Reboot your computer and enjoy some new found freedom!

Windows Media Player Rules

Windows Media Player, is now pretty much king. It plays all your videos, plays all your music, shows all your pictures and can even download plug-ins to display power point presentations, instead of having to download the PowerPoint viewer (If you don’t have Microsoft Office installed). Windows Media Player is also your built in CD/DVD burning and authoring program. Much like K3B in Fedora and other linux distributions. You even use it to buy music and videos. The only caveat of Windows Media Player having so much power, is that the burning engine still has to cache absolutely all files that are being worked with, onto your “C Drive”. Perhaps there is some merit to this idea, in order to prevent buffer under runs. However, what if the “C Drive”, is the partition that is full of data, and you want to remove data from it, by burning it to CD or DVD? You can’t, if your “C Drive” is full, and therefore can’t burn a CD, because Windows Media Player will not burn the CD, until it can cache the entire contents first.

No Multiple Desktops

I know I am not the first person to accuse Microsoft of being Un-Original. So here is my two cents worth. Among all the things that features and ideas that Microsoft took from other leading operating systems, what I don’t understand, is why they didn’t implement a “Multiple Desktops” feature. I mean, Flip 3D? It’s fancy, but that is all. Being a linux user of so very long, multiple desktops is something I can not live without. Since this feature is about doing everything with Windows Vista, there is no reason why I couldn’t use a work around. To get myself the taste of multiple desktops again, I found Yod’m 3D. It’s a pretty poor attempt to imitate the “Cube Affect” found in Beryl. However it gives me the multiple desktops I require, a little eye candy as well, and impresses my friends.

And Now For Something Positive

I’ve been fairly negative to Microsoft’s latest invention so far, so how about a few positive points.

  1. Hide inactive icons in the system tray is smarter.
  2. You run many programs with “Windows XP Compatibility Mode” that otherwise won’t run in Vista
  3. For some hardware devices (NOT ALL) you can use your Windows XP drivers and achieve perfect functionality
  4. The new start menu is cool, and you can still revert to classic
  5. Internet Explorer 7 doesn’t crash after viewing more then two websites, like it does in Windows XP
  6. If you switch between multiple Wireless networks (home and work) as I do, Vista automatically switches to the available network in the location you are in, and applies the correct settings, BEFORE you logon.
  7. You can use Windows Defender to stop programs from starting on startup, just like that great StartupControl Panel.
  8. If you have multiple monitors connected to your machine (Laptop or PC) you have different resolutions on both machines, without issue. You can also clone or extend your desktop, without the need for fancy drivers or other programs.
  9. Plug and Play Memory Cards, USB Sticks, whatever they are, all write data on the fly. Now you can really can drag data onto your memory stick, and take it out straight away, without worry if the data was actually written or not.
  10. The Snipping Tool. It’s just like taking a snapshot with screen grab in KDE (Fedora and other Linux distributions).
  11. Windows Vista is extremely stable if you use it properly. The people who complain about it crashing, are usually the ones that install 12 Codec packs to get their torrent obtained videos to work. I installed “Just” VLC. It works flawlessly in Vista, and has every codec required, self contained. No need to download DivX or XviD or any others.
  12. So far, Windows Live One Care has done a good job at replacing Ad-Aware, Comodo Pro Firewall and Comodo Antivirus. Seemless integration into the operating system, and very low overhead.

The Road So Far

I’ve been using Vista for 5 days now. I’ve installed Firefox and Thunderbird, but haven’t migrated to Outlook 2007 just yet. Mainly because I was using Thunderbird before, and despite my newest adventure, I can not do without my email. I ended up installing a third party program to perform CD Burning, called Express Burn. I used to use FS-Driver to read my linux partitions, but have since switched to Ext2Fsd. Ext2Fsd provides far more stability then FS-Driver, since I had to use FS-Driver in “Windows XP Compatibility Mode”.

Installing software can sometimes be a pain. Despite disabling UAC and using an Administrator account, some software just does not work correctly unless you install it as “Administrator”. To do this, you don’t need to actually use the Administrator account, rather you right click the installation or executable file and select “Run as Administrator”. After the installation, you are free to run the program normally with complete functionality.  The first time I noticed this, was when I installed the Creative MediaSource software for my Zen 6GB Neeon MP3 Player.

Speaking of MP3 players (and consequently, plug and play removable media), another positive for Windows Vista is its natural and properly full support for the plug and play of removable media devices. No longer do I need to right click the icon in the system tray, or the drive icon in My Computer (which is now called just “Computer”). I can simply copy music or songs to my MP3 player (or PSP, or USB Drive) and simply remove it from laptop or PC, and everything is fine! No corrupt file system, no files missing, its all good!

I’ve only had Firefox crash one time, and Internet Explorer has many improvements also. Obviously not enough to make me give up Firefox though! The fact that Windows Vista was able to source all the websites and locations to get drivers for devices that it didn’t already have drivers for, was most definitely a bonus, and I have some weird components. Like an IDE Expansion RAID card. Who has one of those in their PC?

Until next time ….

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