Stevenator65’s Weblog

Technology, Commentary, Opinions, Reviews and Fun Happenings.

Allocate Screen Space for Widgets Free

maxto2

I love Widgets.  They are so cool.  Widgets are mini-programs that are always on your desktop and do handy things.  I have a calendar, To-Do list, weather and a few others.  Yahoo! even provides a dock to hold your widgets (see the right side of the screenshot above).  But unless you feel like resizing every window you have open, you won’t have easy access to your widgets.  You can choose the “always on top” option, but then you’ll cover up your other windows.  Bummer.  But today I think I found a solution that will let me have easy access to widgets while not impeding my open windows.

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February 27, 2009 Posted by | Reviews, Software, Tutorial, Utilities, Windows | Leave a comment

MSI Wind Q2 Mini Review

WindTop

The MSI Wind is a small, impressive laptop.  It sports an 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1 GB ram, 120 GB hard drive, Windows XP home, WiFi B/G and a 10.1″ screen.  It came with a wall charger, and some very meager instructions.  But fortunately it was simple to setup and use.  It is small enough to be very portable, yet large enough to be quite usable.  Lots more photos and info to come…

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January 31, 2009 Posted by | Laptops, Reviews, Steals and Deals, WiFi, Windows | Leave a comment

I Want a New Drug

tweaks  iPhone_blackberry

 

I’ve had a Windows Mobile (WM) device for 8 years, as I’m sure many of you have.  I feel so comfortable with it.  I know its capabilities, I have tons of great software, and best of all, I have support from this excellent forum and others like it.  If I want to find how to do nearly anything a Windows Mobile device is capable of, all I need do is ask.

But my comfort has grown into boredom.  I’ve done many things to alleviate this boredom and make my device more exciting and user friendly, such as upgrading the ROM to WM6.1, and adding Winterface, ZoomBoard and other modern applications.  But when it comes to using the device, ultimately I have to pull out a stylus, and that’s where my frustration lies.  When a customer calls and I need to look at the notes in his contact information or look up product information in my device, I get very frustrated by having to pull out the tight-fitting stylus and navigating a bunch of menus.

Supposedly Microsoft will unveil the next version of WM in the second half of 2009, called WM6.5.  But there are no firm details as to expected improvements.  And the new version will reportedly only be available in new handsets.  I’m not sure I want to wait at least six months for a new, exciting product, when I have no idea what to expect.  Will we still have to drag out a stylus for picking out contacts or playing some of my favorite games?  How will our user experience be enhanced?  Judging from past versions of WM, I suspect only incremental upgrades, and that’s ok, because I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want to alienate their current user base by making radical changes.  But I feel radical changes are in order.

If you were to suggest a pocket pc or new phone to someone, would you recommend a WM product if they had no previous experience?  I don’t think I would.  I think it would be a steep learning curve as compared to the out-of-the-box user experience that competitors supply, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, the upcoming Palm Pre, Symbian and Android.  I have many non-techie friends who have recently bought new handsets from BlackBerry and iPhone and were up and running quickly.  Can one expect that from a WM device?  Certainly a WM device has more capabilities, is more tweakable, has a huge software base, and of course huge communities to help one along.  But the vast majority of users are not looking to reflash ROMs, or edit the registry.  Which begs the question, what is a power user?  Is a power user someone who endlessly upgrades roms and software, tweaks the endless amount of settings and spends hours hacking away at the user interface, or is a power user someone who makes tons of calls, emails and text messages?

I think both are power users, but they are very different types of power users.  One is a power user and the other is really a power tweaker.  Take my wife, for example.  She is very non-techie.  When her work got her a BlackBerry Curve she was emailing and texting in minutes.  She has turned into a major power user.  Yet she has no idea how the inner-workings of her phone function.  And why should she care when everything works with no intervention?

I enjoy tweaking my device.  It’s fun.  I’m amazed at some of the incredible ideas people have come up with in order to enhance the WM experience.  But really, is this experience radically different than it was 8 years ago?  I submit it is not.  And that would be fine if I never saw a BlackBerry or iPhone.  But with that door open, WM suddenly seems old fashioned.  To be sure, you can dress it up in the beautiful cocoon of an HTC Fuze, and you can add finger friendly software, but that won’t attract the casual user who makes up the vast majority of customers.  Isn’t it obvious?  A recent article from Computerworld.com showed the numbers.  For the 3rd quarter of 2008 Symbian is first in sales with 15.4 million sales, followed by RIM with 5.8 million units sold, and 3rd place iPhone finally beat out WM devices for the first time, 4.7 million units to 4 million.  Of these nearly 30,000,000 units sold, how many owners are in the power tweaker category as opposed to the power user?

Are you happy with your WM device, or are you looking for easier access to your information and communication functions?  Do you want to spend your time tweaking or texting?

And while I’m at it, I have to say I am sick of using a mouse.  I only have two hands and the mouse is slowing me down.  It’s also time for a new desktop user interface that allows two handed use or we will be forced to evolve into three-handed people.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Apple, Blackberry, Opinions, Pocket PC, Technology, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

USB 3.0 Finally on the Way

usbport

8 years ago the USB 2.0 specification was released.  It was a huge improvement over the USB 1.0 spec, speeding transfer of data by a factor of 40 times, enabling downloads of 60 MB per second.  USB 3.0 will bring a tenfold increase to that speed, or 600 MB per second.  What does this mean to you?  Look at the speed differences between the three specs:

Transfer of a 25GB HD movie:

  • USB 1.0: 9.3 hours
  • USB 2.0: 13.9 minutes
  • USB 3.0: 70 seconds

That’s a significant improvement.  Unfortunately you may not see USB 3.0 until 2010.  Microsoft is trying to work it into Windows 7, and is deciding whether to add support for it in Vista.

Read more about it at CNET

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Accessories, Opinions, Utilities, Windows | Leave a comment

The Countdown Begins

In approximately 60 hours I will see my favorite band of all time, Rush, perform at the United Center in Chicago.  That will be the first of two shows I see.  The next one is June 27th at Milwaukee Fest.  I decided to use technology to prepare myself for the shows.  Here’s how.

rush_snakesandarrows

 

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June 7, 2008 Posted by | Mp3, Opinions, Software, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

Copy DVDs With Ease

DVDCloner

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March 1, 2008 Posted by | Reviews, Software, Windows | Leave a comment

Back to the Future

I think of an operating system as the ground, or earth, that the computer relies on.  It is the base, the rock, the framework, and it must be a solid foundation to support all the components that will spring forth from it.

With that in mind, I ask, have we progressed in the 25 years that I’ve been using computers?

apple2e

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December 7, 2007 Posted by | Opinions, Windows | Leave a comment

Chillaxin’ With Vista

Last week I was visiting customers when I settled in my hotel room.  I pulled out a cold one, turned my Vista lappy on, and connected to the wifi.  Or at least tried to.  My connection was on again, off again.  Everytime I connected and clicked on a link, I would lose the connection.  I kept restarting it, using the Dell Wifi Utility, and using all my meager powers to maintain a connection – all to no avail.  I knew that since my pocket pc connected with no problem, that my laptop had the problem. 

Part 1 Wifi or Nofi

When I returned home, I told my buddy about my connection problem.  He’s my guru.  He told me he had just bought a new Vista laptop and had the same problem.  Sony told him to go to their website and download all their patches, drivers and downloads.  I took his advice, went to Dell, and and did a search for downloads.  It asked me for my service tag #.  That is located on the bottom of my laptop.  When I entered it, I found a ton of downloads waiting for me.  Holy smokes, why didn’t they tell me about them?  I spent over an hour downloading them.  I restarted the computer and finally my wifi was running great again.

Part 2 Windows Vista SP1

The Windows Experience Blog takes you through sp1 and all the updates and improvements.  It’s good reading.  SP1 is in beta right now and should be out soon.  Part of what helped fix my problem, and that of countless others with Vista, is addressed in SP1, “My wireless network experience is improved on my laptop. Prior to SP1, I had been experiencing issues in losing connectivity on my wireless home network and having to repair the connection (especially after resuming from Sleep or Hibernation). Since SP1, I’ve not had to repair my connection once.”

Part 3 Is Vista Really That Slow, or is it You?

My laptop is a brand new Core Duo, and it is slower than my 5 year old laptop.  It’s killing me.  I mean, Vista looks cool and all, but I can’t get anything done.  It’s so sloooooooooooowowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!  Time to make some adjustments.  And they are easy to do.  Here we go:

1. go to Start

2. Control Panel

3. System and Maintenance

4. Power Options

5. Choose High Performance

6. Go back to System and Maintenance

7. Performance Information and Tools

8. Adjust visual effects

9. Adjust for best performance

You will notice a huge difference in the appearance and performance.  The appearance will be more bland.  It will be less exciting and visual, but that’s ok, b/c the system will speed up a ton.  You will be motoring.  Your new laptop will become faster than the old one.  Finally.

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Opinions, Windows | Leave a comment

10 Great Tech Ideas that Fell Short

The world would be a different place if…the many incredible inventions that came from brilliant minds actually actually made it through the tough and demanding rigors of the free marketplace.  Let’s go back and look at what is and what could never be…

10. After the mouse, a brilliant inventor came up with a great, yet diffent idea.  This was in the days before we had wireless connections, mind you. 

The Hamster! was, conceptually, ahead of it’s time.  It was comfortable to hold, soft and cute.  The inventor, who’s name is not even a footnote in history anymore, aimed to strap on the mechanicals on the bottom of the hamster.  The problems were twofold;  the hamster kept moving, and it kept, uh, shall we say, making poopees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 31, 2007 Posted by | Accessories, Opinions, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment

Get into the Act!

According to Microsoft, Outlook is a “personal information manager and communications program”. But those who need a more robust solution than a glorified address book have many viable alternatives. To be sure, Outlook is an excellent email program, but do not mistake it to be a contact manager or project manager. Even with Microsoft’s Business Contact Manager update what you have is a hodgepodge of puzzle pieces added on top of a weak address book that is bound to collapse under the weight of professional use.

So what should a professional salesperson, attorney or project manager depend on to get ahead in their careers? There are many tools out there, but the one I found to be the best is Act! What makes Act so good? In a few words, it’s really easy to use, it’s highly customizable, and it gets the job done. Basically, it contains an email program, contact list, calendar, a pda link, a task list and a method to group contacts. But hey, you’re thinking, Outlook does all that as well. Yes, it does do it all, but not as well. Let’s take a closer look at some basic functions and you’ll see what I mean.

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October 17, 2006 Posted by | Reviews, Software, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment