Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vista...take two

XP is officially hosed on my laptop. How did it happen? Long story short, I thought it was IRQ sharing that was causing my VGA output to twitch...like a third of the screen would vertically shift a pixel for a split second. So I disabled ACPI in Device Manager, and my laptop did not like it at all. I thought I hosed the machine for good. Until I got a recovery image to actually work. everything came back, except the start menu. It would just delete any new shortcuts to new applications installed if they were not in their own folders. After that, the copy of xp has been on a slow trek to total failure. After I upgraded my Dell at my old job to Vista when it first came out, it was a miserable experience. 2 months later I quit my job there, and one of the benefits of quitting the job was not having to ever see that machine again. Needless to say, after that experience, I wss convinced Vista was the new Windows ME. The blacksheep of operating systems. Since then, I haven't touched Vista. I've been hearing how they smoothed out the rough edges, and after having scored a free copy of Vista (only pay shipping to Lenovo), I decided it was finally time.

I first tried the upgrade from XP....and after 2-3 hours, it said it couldn't find drivers for some hardware, and it took another hour and half to roll back to XP. The rollback to XP actually worked. The 4 hours of my life, I'll never get back.

So I cleared out my USB drive, dumped all my data, then did a clean format and install. No big problems yet. I don't know it like the back of my hand like I do XP. I had to disable User Account Control because Synergy (awesome keyboard and mouse sharing program) just stops working anything User Account Control intervenes. It feels as though it takes a while to startup and shut down. I actually like all the ThinkVantage stuff as it needs to be used to get the most out of Power Management, finger print, and wireless options. And to my surprise, that wasn't too hard. Its mostly automated. The first major pain was getting the fingerprint reader to work with the TPM nonsense below, which is good because its not a show stopper, but its stupid because its such a stupid problem Lenovo should have fixed years ago. Things are running smooth. It seems to eat up all of my 3 gigs of ram instantly. At least I know buying that ram didn't go to waste... We'll see how she flies.

One word of advice for MS. Improve Windows Media Player 11. Does anyone really use that crap? Undoubtably they've spent an enormous amount of money developing something that is hurt by wrong priorities. Here is what is important:

-Support for Divx and Xvid and other popular codecs. License it already. Can it even do H.264? I don't even know because I don't even bother with Windows Media Player. The automatic codec detection failure just tells me your software doesn't work.

-Keyboard navigation controls. I would like 5 second skips and 1 minute skips with the keyboard minimally. More options would be better. Don't bother trying to mimic FF and RR on the VCR. Its useless, and doesn't work for most codecs.

-Aspect ratio correction and cropping options. I hate watching videos that are stretched in one way or another. Another thing I hate is watching videos with thick black borders from top to bottom (this is where cropping comes into play).

I can say for sure that my top 3 requirements for a good video players is top 3 for a lot of people. What is surprising is that these top 3 things are Windows Media Player's top weaknesses. Microsoft just doesn't get it.

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