My last few days looked like this:

10 Days to Go5 Days to Go4 Days to Go3 Days to Go2 Days to Go

 

Unfortunately, I was away on “1 Day to Go”, so I wasn’t able to get a screen grab, but I think you get the idea. My days of using Windows Live One Care, were over! Trust me, I celebrated!

The inclusion of Windows Live OneCare in my 90 day stint, was most certainly a disaster, and also the cause of most of my stress during my use of Windows Vista. Just like other Virus/Spyware detection combo software suites, it too was always scanning in the background. Scanning so much infact, that it would often make reading my email near impossible. I would sometimes wait up to 5 minutes for an email to load into view. The Windows Live OneCare firewall was a pain in the butt, not to mention that Windows Vista itself, did not even acknowledge that it had a firewall installed. For the entire 90 days, Windows Vista was bugging me to enable Windows Vista Firewall, because apparently I didn’t have one installed! For some unknown reason, Windows Live OneCare continued to disable Windows Defender. I found this to be a pain, because every few days Windows Defender would make it to the top of the pile saying “Hey! I am disabled! Enable me Again!”. Of course after enabling Windows Defender, I would then have to do a spyware scan, even if I didn’t want to! “Later” I would click, only to see my CPU usage go way up as it started scanning in the background instead.

One very irritating caveat of Windows Vista, is physical memory usage. During my 90 days, I was unable to get Windows Vista to really function the way I wanted it too. For example, I have 2GB of DDR Memory. So I figure “what do I need a swap file for”. So I disable the swap file, and immediately Windows Vista complains that it does not have enough memory! It even performed sluggishly! Now, if I were to do this in Windows XP, the system would be forced to push as much as possible into physical memory. Which in the case of my laptop with 2GB of DDR Memory, was perfectly fine! I never exceeded 2GB and my laptop never skipped a beat. Come Windows Vista, and I am able to perform the same feat! The best I could get was a compromise, which was still horrid. I was able to push the swap file down to a minimum size of 200MB (instead of the “Windows Managed” 3.5GB). However, if a program on my laptop should use more then 200MB of Memory (Firefox for example, as I am sure many of you have experienced), I would still get the memory warning errors. Sure, I can ignore them, but eventually, Windows Vista would crash Firefox altogether, or whatever offending programs were “taking up too much memory”. As I said above, this was never a problem in Windows XP. Hopefully there is a work around for this out there somewhere. I share my HDD with a Linux Partition, so 3.5GB wasted on a swap file is a lot for me, especially since Fedora 7 is quite capable of running smoothly with no swap partition at all!

Overall, my 90 days of Vista has been fun, and for the most part, I have had next to no troubles. I have swamp of applications installed, and they all work fine, including the ones I had to install in “Windows XP SP2 Compatibility Mode”. Heck, I was even able to install Command and Conquer Windows 95 Edition. With an extra piece of software, I was able to battle against my younger brother.

The slick new interface is funky, and easy to disable when it gets in the way (like when it is sucking up too much of my 200MB swap file for example!). Windows Aero is handy, but it’s not the be all of Windows Vista, it’s just the icing on the cake.

I also opted to include Microsoft Office 2007 in my 90 day stint. The latest version of the Microsoft Office Suite, and boy is it something! Most of the applications have been completely re-written, others updated. If you haven’t tried Microsoft Office 2007 yet, you should give it a shot!

I am sure that Windows Vista has far more to offer then what I have experienced so far, and for the moment, I am going to stick to using Windows Vista and Office 2007, to get the most out of both of them, and broaden my knowledge. I am somewhat established here now, and it would be a shame to just leave it all. I miss using linux, however I think I will continue my use of Windows Vista, at least until Fedora 8 is released.

I will even continue to post my findings and discoveries of Windows Vista, and hopefully at some point, I write a “Windows Vista – The Perfect Setup” guide. Actually, I have one in the works already… so stay tuned!

Get Better Graphics Performance

So far I have managed to do a fair amount of complaining about Windows Vista. In particular, I have referred my quality of computer gaming, gone down the drain, due to the strain and drain that Windows Vista puts on my computer. Well campers, I found a solution to my problems just hours ago.

WARNING:

BY FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW, YOU AGREE THAT I WILL ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED TO ANYONES COMPUTER THROUGH MISS USE OR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW. PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW AT YOUR OWN RISK. JUST COVERING MY ASS. FEEL FREE TO POST ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS 🙂

Step 1 – Install TweakVista

Yep, download and install this baby. Once installed, customise to your hearts content. Try disabling lots of things. TweakVista won’t let you break your computer, so go ahead, disable stuff. In particular, disable any services or programs you don’t need running. You might need to visit the services list in the Windows Vista administrative tools (not a section in TweakVista). Once there, go through the list and stop / disable any services that you do not use.

Do yourself a favour. If you haven’t already, disable User Account Access Control. Windows Vista will fuss about it, so disable the annoying pop ups too. If you don’t have a home network, there are heaps of services you can disable that would otherwise be sucking up precious memory!

Step 2 – Disable Windows Display Manager

Yep. This is the fancy smancy applet/gizmo that runs on top of windows and gives you that funky glass (or not so funky glass if you have Vista Basic) look on your desktop. You can disable the Windows Display Manager in TweakVista. Alternatively, you can tune your computer for performance instead of looks. You can do this under Advanced System Settings, in the Control Panel, under System.

Your desktop environment will be reminiscent of Windows XP Classic, but heck, does it really matter?

Step 3 – Update!

Make sure you have all available Windows Vista updates installed. Also, make sure you have the latest graphics drivers installed. If you are like me and have an ATI Radeon 9800 SE (software modded to be an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro) then make sure you have the latest modded driver.

Step 3 – Reboot and Play Games

I couldn’t believe the performance hit! Suddenly my games were fast, EVERYTHING was fast! My computer logged on to the desktop in seconds. It now also only takes seconds to shut down! Absolutely amazing stuff!

Summary

Install TweakVista – Customise your system for performance rather than features

Disable any unneeded or unnecessary services – Take your time, read the descriptions. Disabled as much as you can. If you are unsure – LEAVE IT!

Adjust your system for best performance – Disable Windows Display Manager (WDM). You won’t have your fancy looking interface, but you will be saving on that new graphics card you were considering purchasing.

A Few Annoying Bugs

Why must FTP support always be crappy? No matter what version of Windows I use, whenever I put an FTP address into Explorer, in the username:password@hostname.tld/public_html/site/this/that/etc it always crashes the first time. That’s right. Even in Vista, it crashes the first time, and then when I try it the second time around. I am denied access. To get to where I want to go. I have manually login again with Explorer, and then start at the home directory and navigate my way to the directory I want to upload some files too. Arrgh! Such a pain! Why does Explorer remember the locations I have been to via FTP in it’s history, if it is going to deny me from using such short cuts!! And No, it’s not just one FTP sites, It’s all FTP sites. And No, it’s not my internet connection, because I have been to many different locations with my Laptop, and the result is the same!

What is with Presentation Mode? (I am using Vista on a Laptop). It doesn’t do anything? Every time I connect my laptop to a projector (to teach a class with a PowerPoint presentation for example), I have to use “Extend Desktop”. Even with the Official ATI drivers installed, I can not get the Projector to function as a second monitor per say. Presentation Mode On, Presentation Mode Off. Wtf? I used to be able to do this fine with Windows XP.

The automated running of Windows Live One care is a pain. Especially at 10:30pm at night, when I am working on a Power Point presentation, and I want to save it! If I am able to save it (i.e, my system responds long enough to accept the command) I have to be sure not to click anything else, otherwise Power Point goes all white eyes on me and then it never recovers. Why did Microsoft steal the “darkening of the non responding windows” from Linux? Especially since the windows nearly always recover in Linux. Why don’t they just go down the Mac road. If the current window has stopped responding for more then 30 seconds, just make it go away! To quote Hunter Chrestle “Poof! It goes away! You didn’t click anything, you didn’t even save! It’s just gone!”

I think Windows Live One Care wants my money. I feel slightly like I am being scammed. Every night, Windows Live One Care does a scan. Every night, it tells me how it found 7 (or 10) viruses. It also tells me how it tried to quarantine them, and failed! The same message box says that I should pay for a subscription with better protection. After that, the status of Windows Live One Care stays all green, and apparently there are no problems! So, do I have viruses on my PC, or is this just a copy cat situation, like plenty of that scam software out there available on the internet? What do they call that? Spyware was it?

Interesting Smarts

Vista and Office Ultimate do have some interesting new features. For Example, Outlook 2007 will now attempt to find out your incoming and outgoing mail servers for you. You just put in your email address, and it does the rest. Success rate so far? 0% and I have 8 (yeah I know) different email addresses. Perhaps it only works with Paying Hotmail and Microsoft Subscribers?

Internet Explorer 7 doesn’t crash. Every time I used IE7 in Windows XP, it crashed. Yes, I did have a legitimate version that I paid for. Every time I use IE7 in Vista, it never crashes! I like that, but not enough to give up Firefox, which unfortunately has crashed several times this week alone.

Going back to my pains of the Projector, when I extend the desktop, I no longer need to match the resolution on both screens. I can keep my 1440 x 900 resolution, and have the projector, or other monitor attached, set to any resolution I like. I was never able to do this with Windows XP. Being able to do this with Vista, has made using my desktop in “Extended Desktop Mode” bearable to say the least.

The automatic network connection sensing is good! I no longer need to disable an interface, when I am using the other, to prevent my computer from having problems accessing the network. I can leave them both enabled and Vista fails over to the device with the best availability. Which means I can switch between work and home, and never have to alter my network settings. Fantastic!

Having Said That …

So far it has been good. I am enjoying using Vista, although I do find myself pining every once in a while for the familiar linux console. Sometimes I run up a command prompt, but it just isn’t the same, like really.

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.

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