Saturday, January 31, 2009

From the Phone

Ah much better! Now where? I'm thinking a taco way over there ~~~>

Update: This post was sent from my phone while I was out riding yesterday! To say it felt great would be a huge understatement! It’s hard to tell in this photo but this is at a local lake and those spots are ice fishermen on the frozen lake. Funny I seen a lot people ice fishing and motorcycle riders riding but I didn’t see a single golfer. I guess we have the better sport huh?!?! Also seen a big flock of geese flying north. Does that mean spring is on the way?

The ice has to thaw on my drive so I can go to the car wash and clean up Whiskey. As you can imagine we got pretty dirty out and about yesterday.

Speaking of ice covered driveways. I couldn’t tell there was ice on my drive when I pulled in home. Needless to say I was pretty surprised when the bike try to throw itself on the ground. I ended up going through the snow in my yard to get to the garage because I couldn’t move on the ice. Pretty funny to watch I’m sure.

A much happier fasthair

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Still Around

I apologize for not being around lately. I haven’t even been around to even keep on your blogs. I’ve just not had time to sit down as make a post worth reading, much like this one. Then add in the fact it seems to snow everyday and I can’t go riding my mood is less then chipper you might say. In fact some say I’ve been just down right grumpy! Not to mention since I can’t ride I have no riding to post about.

I’ll get around to everyone’s blogs and catch up shortly. I’ll also try to come up with something to write about that might be worth reading. I am still working on the Virtual Machine post, not that it is of much interest to a bunch of motorcyclists. I might also write about some of the computer projects I’ve been working on.

I want to thank you all for checking in and I hope you are all do well.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Software Part Deux

I never meant to leave everyone with glassed over eyes and headaches with my last post. I forget that people may not know as much about PCs as I do, not that I’m a genius by stretch of the word. I’ll try to clear up some of the things with this post without too many technical terms.

First the term OS means Operating System which is what Windows and Mac (Apple) OSX is. I talked about Windows 7 in the last post being the next OS from Microsoft. Well today MS went live with free Beta (beta=pre-release software) downloads. So if you want to get a look at it and give it a try go to this Windows 7 page. Just make sure first you have the hardware that can run it. For the most part if you use Vista you have the horse power to run it. Disclaimer: I don’t know how long that link will work. Read the pages closely making sure to write down the Serial or Key that they provide you.

I do want to warn you about a few things. This is beta so it might be a little buggy. In fact there is a bug in the way it handles MP3 files but there is a patch for it already from Microsoft. (links to patch for X32 and X64) Having said that I have had zero problems with it. Also go to your computers manufactures web site and download any and all Vista drivers for your system. As I said Windows 7 had drivers for all of my hardware on this PC. BTW a Driver is a piece of software that tells the OS what the hardware is and how to use it, more or less. Warning #2, this beta software is set to expire and will not run after August 1st 2009. There are hacks out there that will fix this, not that I would know anything about that…wink wink. Rumor has it that Windows 7 will be ready to go by then so this may or may not be a problem. This is also why you may want to run it in a virtual PC environment. Warning #3 this download is a ISO file (Wiki link) so you will need software that can burn it to a DVD like the Infrarecorder which I linked in the update to the last post. 4th and final warning, I think, this download is HUGH at over 2.34gig for the X32 version and 3.15gigs for the X64 edition.

There I go again, X32, X64, what in the world is that? The simple term is it is the bit-rate (Wiki link) of the OS. Most everyone reading this will have X32 PC, sometimes referred to x86 system. Newer hardware that has Dual and Quad Core processors (CPU) will for the most part (but not all) be X64 system generally speaking. X64 will run both X64 and X32 software, where as X32 will only run X32 software.

To find out what you have right click on My Computer and choose Properties. This will tell your current OS, amount of RAM and what type of CPU you have if you are using XP or Vista. For the most part (or timid) you will want to use the X32 version of Windows 7. X64 is great because it is very fast if you have the hardware to support it. Unfortunately not everything works or likes it. Some of the web and other things are broken but that is quickly becoming a none issue. I will be installing the X64 version of Windows 7 later today since I got that version today from Microsoft. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the web is fixed from the last time I tried to use XP64 a year or so ago.

Still with me here, no glassed over eyes yet? Good.

Virtual PC I’m sure had people wondering what that is too. In simple terms it is a PC inside your PC. If your PC supports Virtual Hardware you can run virtual software like the free Microsoft stuff I linked to in the last post. It really is pretty simple to use even for rookies. I had never used it before I tried it about six months ago. Any good software has very good Help files. If ever you want to know something about the software you are using click on Help and it will most likely tell you how to do it. Believe it or not that is how I’ve learned almost everything I know about PCs.

Wondering if your PC supports virtual hardware? Well look in your BIOS (Wiki link) to find out. Oh there is another geeky term. More warnings, you CAN screw up your PC playing around in your BIOS. But don’t be afraid to look though. You can always look at it and not change anything, plus there is always a Load Default Settings header in the BIOS that will get your PC running again. Use your arrow and enter keys to navigate your BIOS. If you see a heading for Virtual Hardware turn it on. Reading the screen it will tell you what keys do what plus give you a general idea of what the settings do.

How do I get into my BIOS you might be asking? All PCs are different but as your PC goes through (warning another geek term) the POST screen it will tell you what key to hit to enter your BIOS. The POST (Wiki link) screen is the very first screen you see when you turn your PC on, most will say the brand of your PC like Dell or HP ect. To enter the BIOS on most PCs hit either Esc or Delete. Again, the POST screen will tell you which key to hit. Then just go look.  

I’ll let this sink in for a little while before I go any further. Next time I will go into in using Virtual PC and how to make it work with screen shots and the whole bit. This is a great way to test this new OS to see if, 1: you like it, 2: see if it will work for you. Better to find out for free instead of paying to find out the hard way.

Also PLESE do not to do any of this stuff if you are not comfortable doing so. I would hate to know you screwed up your PC trying this stuff. I would feel so bad I would have to call you and provide tech support to help you get it back up. Suppose I should add this last Disclaimer: It’s not MY fault! :)

Questions, comments or want to tell me to shut the hell up, you know what to do. That’s it for now. School’s out.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Software: Updated

Not much going on as far as riding goes here. Since we have been stuck in a cycle of snow, thaw, freezing rain, thaw repeat there hasn't been much of a chance to go riding.

So I've been doing something else I like. Playing with my PC. I like learning how to do new things with the PC. Every time I see something new I wonder how do they do that and I set off to learn how. You might call me a Geek and Gadget guy.

The other day I downloaded the next version of Windows that some say will be released later in this year. The new version is simply Windows 7. If you haven't switched to Vista for reasons that you seem to think it sucks then I think you will like this OS. I've only played with Vista on a friends PC but not because I think Vista sucks but because I felt no great need to update my OS. I really like Windows 7 and can't wait until Microsoft releases it so I can buy a copy of it in the 64X version.

I build Desktop computers for a hobby. This machine is a pretty powerful with 3GHZ dual core AMD CPU, a bunch of RAM and hard drive space, two monitors and even hooked up to my TV to watch over the air HD shows via the TV card if I want. In fact now I am watching football via over the air HD, using built in Media Center, on the second monitor while I type this. HD rocks!

Speaking of writing this. What do you use to compose your blog posts? Microsoft makes a program that is very cool and the best part is it is free! If you find using the built in HTML editor at Blogger a pain in the butt then you will like this freeware. Even if you like the Blogger editor I think you will find Microsoft's Live Writer even better. With plenty of free Plug-ins and other helpful things for inserting photos, links, tables, videos, maps plus many other things like built in spell checker. I find this to be just great software. Give it a download and try to see if you don't agree. Sorry for you three visitors who use a Mac to read my blog, it will not work on your systems.

Anyway back to Windows 7. I installed it on a spare 160gig hard drive I had laying around to see if it would first install and then how well it worked. It only took about twenty five minutes to format the drive and install the OS to a working desktop. That has to be a record for an OS install from Microsoft. The only thing that does not work is my web cam which is old and needs replaced anyway so it's not a big deal to me that it doesn't work. Once Windows 7 goes live I will buy a new web cam. Other then that Windows 7 loaded all the drivers it needed for all the other hardware on this machine, even the sound card which no version of Windows I have ever had would do. So far I like this OS a lot even though there is a small learning curve from the changes verses XP. I haven't even boot my XP OS since installing Windows 7 that is how much I like it and how well it works.

Ever wanted to try some software but were afraid it might hose your system? Then you need to install some Virtual PC software. For the virtual software I use another free program from Microsoft call Virtual PC 2007. Using a virtual PC allows you to test software before installing it on your PC to make sure it doesn't break anything. It also allows you to run older software that will not run on later versions of Windows. I have three different Virtual PCs.

One VPC is running a Linux distro called Puppy which is pretty cool and free too. This can be installed on your hard drive, or a CDR or like I use it on a 2gig flash drive. Just boot from the USB flash drive and it never touches your hard drive. This allows you to take your PC with you anywhere you want, kind of cool I think. This small OS has everything you need built in. Web browser, email client, dvd/cdrw ripping and burning software, a chat client that you can use to control all your chat clients like MSN and Yahoo. I haven't tried to watch a DVD movie yet with it though so I don't know if Puppy will or not. It's been a lot of fun learning something new.

On a second virtual machine I have a version of XP with SP3 to test software or to download software for testing. I use this to test software and to run software that will not run on later versions of Windows. But to be honest I haven't found any thing that will not install on Windows 7 using "compatibly" mode much like XP has built in.

The last virtual machine is running a version with Windows Home Server. This doesn't work in the virtual machine because it can't find the router so it can talk with the other PCs in the network. I've got a trail version of this software coming from Microsoft and just upgraded the hardware of a old box I have sitting here. I'm really looking forward to getting the Home Server running so I can have a place for all of my stuff I have backed up and three or four machines between work and home. Plus it will allow me to grab files from any Internet connected PC. This will let me share my files with friends and families instead of uploading things to the web so they can download the stuff.

The best part of using the virtual machine is it keeps your main PC protected from getting screwed up if something goes wrong. Either just delete the virtual hard drive and start over or just close the virtual machine and not save the changes and you are back where you started.

Do you need some free on-line storage? Windows Live Sky Drive allows you to store, save and share all of your files. It has a limit of 25gig and a file size upload limit of 50MB. It does require you to sign up for use it but if you already have a free MSN account you can sign in with that account and use it.  

Other freeware I use and is very handy. For photo editing I use Fastone. Want a program to zip and unzip files? IZArc is what you need, it's free and supports many of the popular zipped file formats, even ISO files. How about a free uninstall and disc/registry clean up tool? Download CCleaner and recover lots of space on your hard drive. Tired of paying for Anti-virus software that slows your PC to a crawl? Then install Microsoft Security Essentials free anti-virus software. Want to rip your DVD movies to your hard drive? DVD Shrink works great. You might want to read the DVD Shrink site first. Here is a link to a ZD Net article written by George Ou that I found most of these freeware programs. You might find some of his list of a dozen free programs listed that you can make use of.

What are some of the free software you use that you just can't live without? Share them in the comments so we can all give them a try.


UPDATE: I forgot to post a link to free CD/DVD burning software. InfraRecorder is great burning software and like most of these programs I’ve listed, it’s free too. You can use it to burn just about anything including ISO files.

Microsoft has updated the Live Write software. It can be bundled with Live Essentials which has some really handy dandy stuff. Once again these are all free. 

My next post I will explain some of this stuff that has left many of you with glassed over eyes :)