Windows 7 – huge upgrade from XP

Nice hardware helps

I just realized that I bought my “new” Windows 7 machine way back in late January.  The thing is amazing: 8GB RAM, i7 860 Quad Core CPU, 3.0Gbps RAID-1 SATA drives, etc.  I recently went out and bought a 30 inch Samsung monitor so I could put the video card in 2560×1600 mode.  The speed, video, stability, etc. of this machine are incredible!

The most amazing thing is the OS.  I skipped Vista due to all of the bad press – coupled with the fact that XP mostly did everything I needed from a desktop OS.  Mostly was the key part of that sentence.  It really could not handle more than about 2GB of memory efficiently – and I had some leaky open-source apps that regularly gobbled that up since I rarely reboot…

Free Microsoft Software!

Additionally, Microsoft has tossed in some FREE apps that were not available under XP as part of their Windows Live Essentials program.  The most significant of those apps (to me) is Movie Maker.  I regularly edit and upload portions of my SCCA Club Racing videos using Movie Maker.  It is simple and easy – which fits my video skill level really well.  I am also in the process of adding in a TV Tuner card so I can really utilize the Windows Media Center software that came with my Windows 7 Ultimate version.  That should make it even more interesting to connect to my Xbox-360 (which now gives my AppleTV a run for the money in renting movies from the Internet).

Windows 7 handles memory well

I now regularly run over 3GB of apps without any issues on the machine whatsoever.  I have not added all the DB servers, app servers, etc. that I used to run on my various Windows desktops.  That is because I never retire my old machines and they are still on the network somewhere.  I finally have created what is mostly a desktop machine used as a desktop.

No question, Windows 7 is a really fantastic OS.  It will continue to be my main machine to access all the servers running in my in my home data center.

Ted Cahall

Kubuntu and Wubi

Linux  desktop variations

After playing with Debian and Ubuntu, I wanted to see what the latest in KDE looked like. I have mostly been a Gnome user and had read some interesting tidbits on KDE 4.3 in LinuxJournal. I did not want to “polute” my Ubuntu installation by downloading all of the KDE parts to it.   So I decided I would add a Kubuntu partition to my Ubuntu box.  I would do this as well as test Kubuntu on my 64bit Windows machines using Wubi.

I was surprised to see that the installers for Ubuntu and Kubuntu are not really from the same code base. The installation on my 32 bit Ubuntu box went off without a hitch. I had a spare drive on it and I used that for the new partition. I needed to manually change the partitions with the partition manager.  This is so it could leave the old Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 versions where they were. Even this was simple and straight forward.

Wubi letdown

I guess my biggest surprise was that Wubi does not install Kubuntu/Ubuntu to run “on top of Windows” as I thought it would. I had thought there was an additional VXLD layer or something that was written to let Linux run as a guest OS on top of Windows XP. This would have been really cool. Sort of like Cygwin on steroids. This may sound ridiculous, but a colleague long ago, Bill Thompson, wrote such a VXLD for Windows.  He did this back in the mid ’90s that allowed x86 versions of Unix to run on top of Windows.

I searched around the web and Facebook and LinkedIn to see if I could find Bill. With much digging I found him on LinkedIn. His start-up was called “nQue”. He was also a file system guru that wrote a lot of CR-ROM file system drivers, etc. after the start-up went south.

Needless to say, I think if that feature could be added to the Wubi concept, a lot more people might try Ubuntu.  Adding it right on their Windows desktop as an application environment without requiring a reboot. I know Wubi does not alter the Windows partitions.  So it is still a fairly painless way to try Ubuntu without risking much. Users can always uninstall it as they do any Windows application it if they are not happy with it. I just prefer to rarely reboot my systems if I can avoid it.

Ted Cahall

Windows, MacOS, and editing race cam videos…

Windows 7 solves so many issues

I finally got around to installing Windows 7 on a used Dell Precision 360 w/ 1GB RAM that I bought from work. During installation I somehow fried the AGP video card’s DVI port. I was able to still get the VGA port to work – and was impressed with the graphics and performance.

I went out and bought a new AGP card and am now really impressed with the “Aero” themes and video effects. The system is amazingly fast.

Windows 7 and video editing

I figured I would look at the Microsoft Live extensions including the Movie Maker download. I was able to get the software up, running, and edit one of the MPEG videos from my TraqMate race cam within minutes. This was really interesting to me as everyone says the Mac and Final Cut are the way to go. Movie Maker was FREE – while Final Cut Express was $199.00 at the Apple Store. 🙁

Mac Snow Leopard and Final Cut Express

I recently bought the Snow Leopard upgrade for my Intel based Mac and Final Cut Express 4.0 for editing videos. On Final Cut Express (not sure about Pro), the version of MPEG that the car cam shoots is not recognized. I need to read in the video with the software provided by TraqMate. The “fun” part about MPEG is that the file extension does not say it all.  There are 3 versions of MPEG videos… It seems that the TraqMate shoots MPEG2 and Final Cut only recognizes  versions 1 and 3. TraqMate makes a video conversion utility that I have not tried yet. http://traqmate.com/downloads/videoconverter/TQConvertInstall.exe.  There are several other free utilities out there as well.

A pay program from Apple should have at least the minimum features of the FREE program from Microsoft…

And a Ted Cahall Racing Video is Born!

When I was done, I went to post the video to YouTube.  But – YouTube was down! I first tried at 11:15AM ET today.   It was down for a while. It was back up when I checked back at 11:30AM. Movie Maker posts directly to YouTube. So here it is.

Ted Cahall

CentOS Rocks Good-Bye RHEL

Home Data Center saga

I upgraded my home “data center” recently with the addition of two used HP DL320s.  They both have 4GB of RAM and two 15k 36GB drives in a RAID1 configuration.  I build and buy hardware as a hobby to keep me close to the reality of managing corporate software systems and data centers.

From RHEL to CentOS

I decided to run CentOS 5.2 on these new home systems.  It is fantastic.  You have to love the GPL that makes this possible.  Some companies making their first foray into Linux might not feel comfortable using CentOS.  Mature companies that have been using some form of RHEL for a few years should feel very comfortable.  How many Linux OS support calls do you make in a year anyway?  Needless to say, we are migrating AOL from RHEL to CentOS at a significant annual savings.

I would have gone to Debian, as I needed a free alternative  to improve my company’s operating margins, but why not use CentOS when it is binary compatible with RHEL and FREE?  Easy decision.

Open Source Commoditization of Software

Similar to my decisions to move my previous companies off of BEA WebLogic to Tomcat and Sybase to MySQL.  It is almost hard to believe that companies payed for the Netscape Web Server now that Apache is ubiquitous.  Distant memories of companies paying for Alta Vista, Verity, or FAST search products now with Lucene and SOLR.  Thank you Open Source!

Ted Cahall