Blue on Windows Vista

April 2, 2008

Photo0194

I came into the office this morning to see that Blue had some opinions he wished to express about Windows Vista.

"In 1999 Microsoft gave us Windows ME, seven years later they gave us Windows ME 2 (Windows Vista)" – Blue

J: What do you mean Blue?

B: Well do remember Windows ME back in the 1990s? That was one poor excuse of an Operating System, built on not much better Windows 98 before it!

J: Yes I do, it was terrible, specially when you consider Windows 2000 Professional was available at the same time for business people. But surely Vista isn’t as bad as Windows ME Blue?

B: Your right, it isn’t, its worst that Windows ME! Vista is like a bad Sequel after XP, think Star Trek V, Sting 2, Star Wars 1, Speed 2, Batman & Robin, Jaws 4, Spiderman 4.

J: What, they are doing another Spiderman film?

B: Yeah!

J: So what is so wrong with Windows Vista?

B: Well you got a new machine the other day after your last Vista machine couldn’t repair itself and to be honest was a little under powered anyway (2.8 GHz 1.5 GB RAM and 128MB Video) . You also had a clients Vista machine that couldn’t repair itself either that week!

J: Yes and yes, but now my old Machine has Linux Ubuntu 8.04 on it.

B: I know, it feels like a new machine does it? And with 3D desktop enabled it puts Vista and Mac visual effects to shame?

J: Your right, it does Blue. But I think that’s a topic for another day

B: Well here is my list of complaints so far…

1. Forget about speed unless you have a 2.0GHz Duo machine and then I’d be looking at Quad Core if you can stretch to it

2. Control Panel mayhem, I can’t find anything quickly

J: Ah, but your meant to search for everything in Vista, programs, email, documents etc, that’s the thinking behind Vista

b: True, but try searching for "Windows Updates" and nothing will appear because you didn’t type it "Windows Update", that’s just laziness on Microsoft part

J: Okay, next

3. Coping files over network has only been fixed with Service Pack 1, why would they ship an OS with a problem like this?

4. Service Pack 1 actually slows down Vista, forget about it speeding things up or adding any new features

5. Mapped Network drives in a Workgroup environment never remember your passwords

6. How many ways do you need to shutdown the computer? Sometimes it doesn’t actually shutdown, it sleeps and even that doesn’t work correctly on your new desktop computer, remember this morning you wasted 20 minutes?

J: Okay, okay we are getting the picture, so what do you suggest?

B: Not much choice, Microsoft will stop large computer manufactures from ship XP machines in June, Windows 7 won’t be around till 2009/10. Linux debate always comes down to the choice of applications you need to run and isn’t as easy as Windows or Apple, although this is improving. Apple operating system has MS Office and Adobe applications going for it, but they are expensive compared to the specs of a Windows machine and if you’re a large company, Apple Servers are ludicrously expensive bit of kit, £3,000 for a basic server. What do you think Jamie?

J: Well I think if your out for a new laptop or desktop which will run Vista, 2 GB of RAM, 2 GHz Duo Processors and separate video card which doesn’t steal system memory or is what you should be aiming at.

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




What fonts can I use on my Website?

February 1, 2008

image

Twice this week I have been asked what fonts can I use on my website?

Not that many is the short answer.

You might have hundreds of fonts available on your computer, this doesn’t mean everyone else does. Depending on the operating system (Windows, Linux, Apple) , web browser (Firefox, IE, Safari) and programs installed (Office, Photoshop etc) will effect the range of fonts you have. You can certain download more, but people visiting your web site aren’t going to do that. So what fonts are general safe to use on your blog or company website?

From some digging around the general opinion seems to be around 8-10 fonts are pretty safe to use. It doesn’t mean you can’t use images for headers and sub headings etc, but for the bulk of text you are pretty much limited.

What are the Options?

So here is a quick sample of the options available to you, but make sure you have a glance over the next section, as you will see that this still varies from computer to computer, web browser to web browser.

Verdana

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Georgia

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Tahoma

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Arial

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Times New Roman

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Courier New

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Helvetica

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Lucida Console

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Palatino Linotype

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

MS Sans Serif

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Impact

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Quisque consectetuer, tortor id pharetra sollicitudin, urna metus eleifend elit, sed venenatis dui nisl et orci. Nunc orci tortor, suscipit sit amet, interdum quis, egestas ut, ipsum.

Aenean nisl lectus, interdum non, mollis sed, adipiscing in, diam. Etiam sodales neque. Aliquam tortor. Integer pellentesque, tortor ac nonummy gravida, velit sapien suscipit magna, vel adipiscing lorem arcu vel dui.

Trains, Planes and Operating Systems

And just to confuse you more, these fonts can also vary in style depending on the web browser, computer settings and version of the operating system you are running. Although, to be honest don’t worry too much about this, its impossible for any web sites to look identical on every machine out there.

Linux Operating System

image

Windows XP

image

Apple Mac

image

For more information on this subject check out…

Common fonts to all versions of Windows & Mac equivalents

and

Web-Safe Fonts for Your Site

What is your advice about fonts and websites, I’m no expert on the subject so I would love to hear your thoughts?

Author: Support @ 4:25 pm
Category: Web development




Getting Started with Open Source Software

December 12, 2007

image

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a number of business owners about IT services. One of our principles is to use open source software whenever possible to help lower development and licensing costs. Although, I still find that many businesses are simply not aware of the free software.

As with anything, the best way to learn about something, is by example. So here are several good examples of Open Source Software that you can use within your business. But before we get started here is a quick explanation…

What is it Open Source Software?

In basic terms its free software that can be used in businesses and at home. Although unlike Freeware which is just free software, open source software doesn’t belong to anyone, which means you can have access to the inner works of the software, called the source code. So if your company doesn’t like how the software works, they can have it changed.

Creating PDF Documents

books

You don’t need to purchase expensive software to produce Portable Document Files or PDF’s. Instead download and install PDFCreator which creates a virtual PDF printer on your machine. Once installed, you can convert any file into a PDF documents simply by launching the relevant application and selecting the PDF printer when printing. PDFCreator will then ask you where you would like to save your newly created PDF.

Microsoft Office Alternative

office desk, computer coffee and mouse

Open Office is a full office suite which shares many of the features and styles found in Microsoft Office. What’s more, it can open and edit existing Microsoft Office documents. Open Office contains a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database and drawing applications. So, if you have computers without Office and can’t quite justify the expenditure, why not give Open Office a bash.

Mapping Ideas

mind maps

I think mind map software is a great product for all types of businesses. Although you can create hieratical charts within Microsoft office, they are often to formal for creating ideas. FreeMind is piece of software where you start with a centralised idea (hub or trunk) and branch out ideas and as you formulate your project, the map grows. The idea is not be accurate or too formal, just a quickly way to get your ideas recorded.

Plan your projects using Mind Mapping software

Photo and Graphical Editing

paint

Although Adobe Photoshop is an excellent piece of software, it comes with a heft price tag and is quite often over kill for most users needs. There are cheap alternatives, but if you still need something with advance features, then GIMP could be the ticket. Paint.Net is also worth considering as middle weight application and if you need a vector editing package, InkScape.

Compressing Files

image

Back in the day when you wanted to compress a file or send a batch of files via email, you would use a program like WinZip. Since 2001 Windows has incorporated compression or file zipping as standard. Although you may still find the need for something more powerful that can split files, encrypt, password protect and open other compression formats such RAR files etc. Step in 7zip, which has all the features you will every need when it comes to compressing and un-compressing files.

Give me more

Want more?

Still not enough, check out Open Source Alternative.

What are your favourite open source products for the desktop?

Terinea Tags: open source software, , , ,

Author: Support @ 4:10 pm
Category: Open Source




A year on from Windows Vista

November 26, 2007

Mike at Digital Agency noticed this clever advert from Apple promoting bad press Windows Vista has received. Which prompted me to think about what features I like and dislike with the operating system. Check out the video if haven’t already seen it first.


The Good

  • The new Start Menu – I like the way you search for applications and documents within the start menu.
  • Snipping Tool – A simple tool makes my life a lot easier when it comes to screenshots.
  • Printer – Setting up a printer general seems like an easier affair.
  • User Friendliness – I suppose in area’s it a lot easier for the average joe to use, for long as they aren’t upset by the poor performance.
  • I’m struggling to think of anymore.

The Bad

  • Sync Center is not scalable – A small client of ours has recently grown from 2 to 7 machines within a space of a year. Windows Sync has proved it is not a 100% fool proof. Maybe it will work better when we switch to a Domain environment in the new year. I’d like to keep this for the Laptop users.
  • Control Panel Overload – If you switch to classic view the control panel is a complete nightmare.
  • Visual Effects – Both Apple and Windows are behind on this front when you look at Ubuntu.
  • Backup Software – Has had features removed so you can’t define just a directory to be backed up, no it has to be whole drive or nothing.

The Ugly

  • Hardware Hog – I’ve purchased decent laptop with 2GB of RAM and dual processors, yet it still seems to take a day to boot up.
  • Wireless Cards – I have had a couple of issues where Vista decides its going to forget the password for the wireless network.
  • Shutdown – Far too many shutdown options for the end user to choose from.
Author: Support @ 9:00 am
Category: Apple,Windows




Flickr made easy with Windows Live Writer

November 6, 2007

The Well Tempered Clavier

Windows Live Writer is a excellent blogging tool, sorry essential blogging tool! Although as I have mentioned before, it sometimes needs a couple of additional features to match your business needs. For example, an easy way to insert photos from your flickr account.

Clients must despair with people like myself, i.e. advising businesses on new technology. I advise them on something like blogging as a business tool, introduce them to tools such as Windows Live Writer to make the whole process easier.

Later on, I might suggest using Flickr to store and display any interesting images of their clients, services and products. I’m usually met with the question why would I do that, when I can just upload them to the blog site? True, but…

Reasons for a Flickr account

  1. People can view all your photos in one central place.
  2. Community can leave comments, suggest tags or leave annotated notes.
  3. Gives you another shop window to expose your business/brand.
  4. Photos have tags and can be placed in albums (sets and collections) to make navigating around the gallery easier.
  5. If the people enjoy your photos or want to know more they will visit your profile, where they can visit your website.
  6. You can easily* integrate your flickr photos with your blog posts.

* By installing Flickr4Writer!

Some of our pervious posts on flickr are flickr Marketing, How to use Flickr For Your Business – PowerPoint Slides and Why We Have A Company Flickr Account.

Windows Live Writer and Flickr4Writer

Take for example Bill of The Well Tempered Clavier, who has just got his head around the whole blogging thing. Last week I advise him to get a flickr account to upload photos of his green shirt and book signing events. No problem, Bill used Flickr’s uploader tool which makes the whole process a breeze.

Then, Bill rang me this week to see if he could insert a photo from his flickr account straight into Windows Live Writer. Without messing around with web browsers, copying and pasting, there isn’t a simple process. Unless you install Flickr4Writer extension!

  1. Step one, download the extension from Flickr4Writer
  2. Install it.
  3. Restart Windows Live Writer if you have it running.
  4. Compose your blog post.
  5. Place the cursor where you would like the image inserting.
  6. image
    Click on Insert > Flickr Image from the top drop down menu or from the right hand task menu.
  7. image
    Enter your flickr username and click on Search. Once the first images have loaded you can then choose the options from Search Type to narrow down your results. Use the left and right arrows underneath the Search button to flick through your photos. Once you have found the photo select the Picture Size and any Layout preferences. Click on Insert Image.

What additional features would you like to see in blogging tools such as Windows Live Writer?

Author: Support @ 1:31 pm




How to speed up your computer – Part One

October 24, 2007

old computer

One of the most often asked IT support question is “My computer is running slow, do I need a new one”. Most of the time you don’t, your computer just needs a little bit of TLC. Over the coming weeks we are getting back to basics and showing you how with a little bit of knowledge, you can get few more miles out of your existing computer.

Uninstall programs you no longer use

Before you run a fancy program that guarantees to speed your PC, your best bet is uninstall programs that you no longer use. Word of warning, if you’re not too sure what the program does your best leaving it alone. Alternatively run the program to see what it does. To help you, below are a list of programs that probably won’t make much sense, but you should keep:-

  • Microsoft .net Framework (any version)
  • Java
  • Microsoft SQL
  • Adobe Reader
  • Adobe Flash
  • MSXML
  • Anti Virus Program (Norton, AVG, McAfee, kaspersky, sophos etc)

Windows XP

  1. Click on Start
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Double click on Add or Remove Programs
  4. From the Sort By drop down select Date Last Used
  5. Work your way down the list of programs, clicking on Remove for programs you no longer use.

Windows Vista

  1. Click on Flag (Start)
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. Underneath Programs, click on Uninstall a program
  4. Click on Views and select Details
  5. Click on Installed On to sort the list.
  6. Work your way down the list of programs, clicking on Uninstall for programs you no longer use.

Next time we will look at how to clean up wasted space on your computer.

Author: Support @ 10:00 am
Category: Windows




Backup Tools – Mirror Backups and Microsoft SyncToy

October 15, 2007

hard drive head mirrored

One of the best ways to backup your documents and files is to perform a mirror backup. As I have mentioned before in 20 Pointers for planning your backup strategy. The simplest backup strategy can often be the most effective one.

A Mirror backup simply consists taking a complete copy of documents and files and storing them in alternative location. Unlike a traditional backup, the files are not compressed or encrypted. Restoring the backup is either a simple process copying files back or pointing users to the mirrored location. Mirror backups are a great addition to your primary backup solution and effective way to restoring files quickly.

Windows Copying Issues

To perform a Mirror backup you can simply copy files and directories yourself to backup location. You can automate the process by writing a batch file and schedule the task using Windows Scheduler. Although, Windows has a couple of issues when it comes to copying large amounts of files. Often Windows will halt the copy process if it encounters an error with just one file. Another bug bear is when a the process stops to ask the user if they would like to over write existing files. This is fine when copying small amounts of data, but a real pain when you leave Windows to copying large amounts of data that may take a number of hours.

How to use Microsoft SyncToy

Thankfully, Microsoft have produced a free tool called SyncToy, which can over come Windows downfalls. SyncToy allows you to perform a number of file copying operations:-

  • Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Subscribe: Updated files on the right are copied to the left if the file name already exists on the left.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions
  • Combine: New and updated files are copied both ways. Nothing happens to renamed and deleted files.In this example, we are going to create a solution that would allow a user to automatically backup files to a location over the network simply by running a shortcut on the desktop.
    1. Download and install SyncToy
    2. SynToy - First Screen
      Run SyncToy and click on Create New Folder Pair
    3. SyncToy -Create New Pair
      The Left Folder is where the originally data is held, the documents and files you wish to backup. Browse to the top level directory that contains these files and click on Next.
    4. SynToy - Right Folder
      The Right Folder is where you would like the data backed up to. This can be a mapped network drives, UNC path (\\server\folder\) or simply a local location on the same machine.
    5. SyncToy - Type of copy
      Next the tricky part, deciding on how SyncToy should copy the data. We are going to choose Echo, which is basically a one way. This saves on time and bandwidth by only copying new and updated files. Click on Next.
    6. SyncToy - Backup name
      Give your backup job a name and click on Finish.
    7. SyncToy - Advance Opitions
      Next your presented with an overview of your backup job. Click on Change Options…
    8. synctoy - file options
      Files to include – By default SyncToy will copy all files, you can change this to only select certain types of files. For example if you only wanted music files you might have *.mp3;*.wma;*.mp4;
      Check file contents – You might want SyncToy to check the contents of the file rather than relying file size and date attributes.
      Active for run all – SyncToy can have a number of backup jobs which can be run as a set. Un-ticking this means that this backup job won’t be included in a batch run.
      Save overwritten files in the Recycle Bin – Any files that are overwritten are saved in the recycled bin.
      synctoy - file selection
      You can choose which individual sub folders are included in backup job by clicking on Select subfolders.
    9. SnycToy - Preview run
      When your finished with additional options, click on ok and return to the overview screen. Next click on Preview button and SyncToy will give overview of what will happen when the backup job actually runs. If your happy with the results, click on Run and the backup job will run for real this time. That’s it!
      SyncToy - Running

    Automated the Process

  • As this backup job is going to be run by the user, we want to make the process as simple as possible. SyncToy has nice feature that allows it to run in batch mode by using -R switch. Open notepad and add the follow line “C:\Documents and Settings\<your username>\Local Settings\Application Data\SyncToy\SyncToy.exe” -R.

    notepad synctoy batch file

    You might need to double check the location of the SyncToy.exe as this varies depending on the version of Windows. Save the file with a .bat extension to the desktop. Now the user can simply double click on the batch file and SyncToy will complete backup jobs that have been defined.

    image

    Alternatively you can have Windows Task Schedule (Found in the control panel) run the batch so the whole process becomes automated.

    Author: Support @ 8:00 am




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