Monday, January 18, 2010

Windows 7 Aero

I don't know if this is a RANT or what ... but in December I installed Windows 7 Professional on an Intel PBZ875, 4 gigs or RAM, and 2 75 gig SATA drives. I also used an old Video Card that was running Windows 7 RC2 with Aero running just fine. I did not plan it that way, I was running 7RC2 on a different even older machine with a lot less guts with that card. It was just sort of an experiment.

When I installed the released version of Windows 7, I could not get Aero to work with the same card. I was just being cheap. But since it worked before with RC2, I thought it should work again. No. The rating on it is like 2.1 by Windows 7 ... but low and behold the other day Aero turned itself on!!! I don't know what happened.

It seems to me that the card should of been able to do Aero all along since it worked before .... The card is an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 - specs seem to suggest that it does support Pixel Shading and direct X 9.x which are requirements for Aero I believe. Maybe some of you Video Gurus can help me out on this one.

Why for over a month it would not work and all of a sudden it does? I did not make any changes. It is my Family PC used mostly for homework and some trivial work.

Default Windows driver since the manufacturer does not have drivers for Windows 7.

Anyway, I am enjoying the Aero but just waiting for it to turn off. Microsoft giveth, and Microsoft taketh away ;)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Virtual Machine as applications

I want to talk a bit about some of the ways that I have been using Virtual Machines. I have quite a few, here are a few that I want to make a note of.

First, you need VMWARE Workstation installed on at least one machine. I have it on my laptop. To just play the machines you need VMWARE player which is free from VMWARE.

Sandbox Browsing
One way that I have been using virtual machines is what I like to call a sandbox Internet machine. I created a Ubuntu Virtual Machine and installed the VMWARE tools. Once I got it working, I set it up so it can network between itself and my host machines which are often Windows XP or Windows 7. At work, I do not want any browsing to inadvertently pick up any virus or spy-ware. So I use VMWARE player to play my Ubuntu machine. I use it just like any application, but with Firefox in Ubuntu I find a very safe browsing machine. I can still download and transfer files between my Ubuntu machine and the host. Also cut and paste works pretty good between the Virtual machine and any host application that I have working. I use Dropbox to open and save files across all my machines (see next below) I like this setup so well, that I am thinking of possibly use it in every environment. [note: here is a pre-built Ubuntu appliance although it is version 8 so you don't even have to create it]

Single Application Machine
Another way is like I mentioned above, but this time my Virtual Machine is Windows XP. After I created it and put on all updates. I stripped down the services to bare minimum to make start-up and shutdown as fast as possible. I set the wallpaper and interface to maximum performance. Then I made sure that OneNote was working perfectly. I put this VM on a portable Hard Drive. Now I have my OneNote application in whatever machine I am on. This is important to me because I do not have OneNote available to me on my work machines, but with VMWARE player, I just plug my portable drive in play the machine. Now I do something else that I also do on my Ubuntu machine, I use Dropbox (Dropbox is cross platform. You can install it on Windows, Linux and Macs). With Dropbox, I keep my Notebooks in Dropbox which allows me to open my Notebooks with OneNote in any other machine that I have OneNote installed.

A Teaching Environment
A third way is actually a bunch of other ways. I also teach some Technical classes and I find VMWARE Workstation indispensable in that role. I every operating system I can installed in VM Workstation along with routers and Virtual Storage devices.

A Test and Development Environment
This is probably not needed to be mentioned, but this is the most efficient way to test and develop applications and set up test environments. You can isolate whole systems within your own PC/Laptop. I can easily create a whole Lan/Wan simulation and test real time environments. Test environments like these use to take me a great deal of time, numerous pieces of equipment and not to mention dollars. Not only that but the test environment was unmovable. With a Virtual Environment my test lab travels wherever I go. Again, I just could not work without it.

I really do not know how I use to work without Virtual Machine technology, but without it, I would be lost.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Expanding disk size in VMWARE Workstation 7

Expanding a disk size in VMWARE Workstation, is pretty similar to doing it in ESX3x.x, just looks a little different. Remember also that:

1. If the system disk, you have to have the machine turned off.
2. You still have to boot with a disk like GPARTED to expand the disk.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snagit Screen Capture Software, and more

It was circa 1992/1993 and I was in my C++ class. In my previous programing classes the output was always to the stdout (the monitor). That meant that any result from my assignments were easy to hand in to the instructor. I just printed to the printer by directing to to a file ">>" or print screen.

When we got into c++ though it was harder because I needed a good screen capture program. The program I found was Snagit which improved significantly the screen capture of Windows (Remember we are talking Windows 3.x).

When I went into my first IT job, I introduced Snagit to the company to make capturing screens for certain applications easy for users.

Later as Snagit improved, I continued to use it to help me create instructional material, or to communicate better with end users or help desks.

Now Snagit is a premiere screen capture program with full suite of editing features. And to the testimony of the return of the Mac(s) as real contenders for user's desktop, Snagit introduces Snagit for the Mac. Now if only they add a version for Linux we will be completely happy. In that way I would have my favorite screen capture program on all three systems since I work on all three.