Windows 7 Beta 1

Like with Vista, I’m beta testing again. This time, I’m using something a little more powerful, my laptop. Since it came with Vista, some direct comparisons can be done. The first thing to note is Windows 7 Beta 1 is just that, a beta. Though I have yet to have something on it crash, there are some visual bugs that need to be worked out. In certain circumstances I am getting visual corruption in Aero. One thing that was improved right off the bat was wireless networking support. Vista was much better than XP, likewise Windows 7 is much better than Vista in this regard.

Booting does not seem much faster than with Vista, but I am using a slightly slower hard drive, and all my ready boost stuff is disabled at the moment. The sound driver that was installed did not work for the built in speakers on my laptop, but installing a Vista driver for it resolved the issue. Like Vista, the automatic installation of drivers is improved greatly over XP. Unlike Vista, in Windows 7 more information about the devise, and process the installer is following is available. Most devices are just plug-n-play with Windows 7, even more so than with Vista.

The window peaking, and new taskbar are two things I’d throw onto the improvement list. On the taskbar you can move around the currently active applications in a manner that reminds me of Avant Window Navigator (OS X is probably like that too). The mouse gestures will take a little bit to get used to and fully learn, so I won’t comment fully on them at this time.

There are still quite a few problems, but hey, it’s a beta so it’s my job to let Microsoft know about them. The first issues is FTP support, it sucks. Vista FTP support wasn’t much better than XP, they both have issues if you double click on an file (they both try to open the files in Internet Explorer). In Windows 7 Beta 1 I can not even log into my FTP folder, all authenticated FTP accesses fail with the error “The handle is invalid.”

Printer drivers for older USB devices do not exist. My HP Officejet v40 (which is built better than most new printers) had drivers built in to Windows since XP. In Vista the included drivers were slow and made printing painfull, in Windows 7 the drivers are not there. HP does not even distribute Vista drivers for the Officejet v40, so unless you have Vista and rip the drivers out of it, or are resourceful with Google, you are SOL.

There are some screen corruption issues, where Aero flakes out, or the font does not render properly. The font issue is reproducible, go add a printer, and scroll quickly through the driver listing (not using the scroll wheel but instead the scroll bar). It is a flaw in the rendering of the letter ‘e’, and specifically the horizontal line is too thick (two to three times the thickness it should be). The fact that a screen capture using the Print Screen button captures this points to a rendering issue caused by windows rather than a driver issue. Using the ClearType configuration utility (a quick, six step, which text chunk looks best ‘test’ ) seems to resolve this issue.

The Aero corruption issue may be a graphics driver issue. So far I have not found a method that reliably reproduces the issue. It will some times affect the taskbar, when opening and closing windows, or minimizing and maximizing them. Sometimes it will affect the titlebar of an application.

Overall Windows 7 is shaping up to be a good replacement for Vista and XP. Sure the Beta has some bugs, but then again it’s a beta.

-John Havlik

January Already

Well, the ongoing web coding/design implementation project is taking a little more time than initially expected (well, not necessarily true, but things are going along nicely now). The new HP LP2475w helps with coding and debugging, the extra screen real estate is nice–I’m literally surrounded by screen now. It is too bad that currently no two screens show the same color in my setup. By far my ancient Dell 1702FP shows the truest colors, though the HP LP2475w should be able to match it once calibrated properly. Only one stuck subpixel, naturally it had to be the green one, so on darker colors it sticks out, but on lighter ones is is not noticeable. Thanks to the small size of the pixels, one stuck subpixel is not really a problem. Gaming wise, my system is too weak to push the full resolution to the monitor on any modern games. However, Worms Armageddon supports the 1920×1200 resolution just fine, most maps fit within the screen, which is awesome.

The previously mentioned new plugin will be delayed slightly as, once again, it will use jQuery. Originally it was going to use jQuery, I could not get it to work correctly so I rewrote the JavaScript using MooTools, but I think I can get it to work in jQuery. That is all I will say about that plugin for now.

An update to Breadcrumb NavXT will come out late next week. This is a feature adding release, and so far three things have been improved. I’ll be looking into paged archive/post/page pages for this release, and probably qtranslate support as well (through a wrapper of sorts).

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Wood Hard Drive Case Mod Part Four

Now for the fourth set of images for this project. I finally found some stain that I liked, and hence went to town staining the wood case. The stain is a gell stain, which I’ve never worked with before. Since it was old (found it in a bunch of old wood working tools) I was surprised it was any good. It says to apply liberally and wipe off after 5 to 10 minutes. Due to it’s age, leaving it on that long would result in it drying too much, a very bad thing, but nothing a little water can’t take care of.

The case all fits together now, but the mounts for the hard drive are causing some problems that allow it to power up but Windows will not recognize it. What is happening is the little converter board that plugs into the hard drive gets tweaked and the data connector loses it’s connection. This will require redrilling mounting holes in the bottom aluminum plate, this time I’m going to use the drill press and hopefully that will be the end of the project.

-John Havlik

Crysis Warhead

The only game one received this Christmas was Crysis Warhead. This covers Sgt. Skyes’ (Psycho) journey during the events of Crysis. Like Crysis, the graphics are amazing, even in super low settings. However, you never do interact with Nomad, as in Crysis, which is a letdown. The expansion, if you could call it that (Crysis Warhead does not require Crysis to be installed or even a CD key for Crysis), is more polished than Crysis.

Ammo is automatically picked up, previously it had to be manually grabbed. Ammo is abundant, in Normal difficulty one never found oneself out of ammo while trying to fend off enemies. Unlike Crysis, when you encounter the aliens you have an effective weapon to fight them (the Gauss Rifle). In Crysis you had a shotgun or FY71 (possibly a SMG or Scar but usually there is not enough Scar ammo around and the SMG is less effective than the shotgun and FY71) which are not nearly as effective. New weapons and vehicles are nice. The ASV Armored, basically a HUMVEE with heavy armor and usually come equipped with an anti-vehicle machine gun. This easily tears through the normal HUMVEE like vehicles the Koreans have and the transport trucks.

Landmines are an addition that seemed geared more towards multiplayer game play. The Claymore anti-personal and the anti-tank mine were only available in the multiplayer mode of Crysis. In reality, though available, there really are no places effectively to set traps with mines. Sure, playing with the Claymores was fun, but not as fun as simply running down or sniping enemies. Not once in the campaign did one use the anti-tank mines. There simply was not a good area to deploy them. Again, in multiplayer mode the mines are much more useful.

The FGL40, a grenade launcher with a six shooter style magazine, is perfect against groups of Koreans or Aliens, but not effective against tanks or large aliens. The AY69, a “micro machine gun”, is a fully automatic pistol that can be dual-wielded. It is one’s favorite weapon now. It packs a much harder punch than the normal pistols. With 40 rounds in each gun, you can empty 80 rounds into a group of enemies without reloading. For short range fighting, the dual-wielded AY69 is the best weapon choice. Not only is the dual-wielded AY69 effective against Koreans, it also makes short work out of those small pesky aliens as well. Simple rule of thumb, for your side arm, always duel-wield the AY69.

Crysis Warhead is short, on Normal mode, one beat the game in about 8 hours. One did not try to beat the game as fast as possible, nor did one take the “scenic route”. And, by no means is one a “hardcore gamer”. That said, it is very entertaining. Ideally, it could be three times longer if they added in the interactions with Nomad and expanded the story a bit more. Now, if they would only make an “expansion” tracing the actions of Prophet.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Wood Hard Drive Case Mod Part Three

Onto the third set of pictures for the wooden external hard drive case. As of now all that really needs to be done is to stain the wood. Since I don’t have the stain I want to use at hand, that part is not complete yet. Since the last set, the attachment mechanism was figured out. Turns out wood glue works good for tapping wood for M3 screws. The activity and power LEDs were mounted together, and the polycarbonate window for them was placed in the case.

-John Havlik