Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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Podcast Wednesday - 12/16

Cold Boot hits before the holidays with iMac talk, the Microsoft/EU settlement, the lack of Verizon apps, and an update on my URL shortening situation. It might be Winter, but the Cold Boot 'cast is HOT!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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URL Shortening - The New Movement

Having just recently gotten into the blogger foray on a regular basis, I wasn't entirely familiar with URL shortening until now. I still don't totally get the concept, but I currently use to shorten my links on Twitter (it's Twitter's default, but TwitterFeed lets you choose from a myriad of options)., probably the most recognized because it is Twitter's default service, is gaining quite a bit of company, however, as well as adding some services. Pro is that provider's way of making "www" addresses a thing of the past. For instance, if you type into your browser, you will end up with the New York Times homepage. Other sites, such as The Onion, MSN, and the Wall Street Journal have also gotten into what is now the beta stage of Pro, which also provides detailed statistics of use for those that sign up. Facebook has also entered the URL shortening mix, allowing users to either reach the Facebook homepage at, or utilizing Facebook's new username service by entering the username following a forward-slash.

URL shortening, albeit interesting, seems a little silly to me. Bookmarks became commonly used years ago, and users across the globe use them all the time to access their most frequented sites. Even if you are trying to attract new users, wouldn't it be easier to remember "" rather than ""
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New iMacs Experience Shipment Delays and Graphic Issues

This hasn't gotten a ton of pub, but Apple is apparently having some issues with their new 27" iMac line. Not only are they having problems filling orders for the desktop computer, but the iMac display has had problems as well, including cracked screens and flickering. One post on the Apple discussion forums, "New iMac 27inch screen flickering/tearing/shutoff," had 1,284 replies at the time of this blog posting. The issue, according to some, can be tied to either the ATI video card Apple has now decided to use in this new line, or the i5 and i7 processors overheating.

In terms of shipping the computers, Apple's claiming that their iMac sales are up 74% over last year, which is what's causing the delay. Some suggested that it was the graphic issue that slowed the iMac shipments, but Apple claims that isn't true. Whether or not Apple delayed shipments to fix the flickering issue might not be solved until after the holiday, when those who receive the delayed iMac's have their chance to complain if problems persist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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Use SkyDrive for Hosting Streaming Media

If you've tried to use Windows Live SkyDrive to host a podcast or video, you may have noticed that the link seems to  become unusable within a few hours of uploading the file. Well, it does, and that's due to Microsoft implementing a changing URL system, probably precisely for preventing streaming media to be placed on, and clog up, their servers. The old method, which worked fine up until a few months ago, would be to right-click the file you wanted to stream in your SkyDrive library, copy the link location, take the "?download" text off the end of the address, and that would be the direct link.

Well my cyber friends, don't despair, Tim Acheson has come to our rescue! Acheson has created a dynamic redirect URL that allows you to use SkyDrive to host streaming media, and will work as a permanent link! Here are the steps:

1. ASK Tim Acheson if you can use his redirect link. He's worked hard on it, and would like to know how many of us are taking advantage of it. It's only right to ask permission from the author, and it's not all that difficult or time consuming, so do it!

2. Copy this URL, as it will be the first half of your permanent link: 

3. Go to the SkyDrive page that simply shows your file as an icon. It's hard to describe this page exactly, so I've got an example for you HERE.

4. Copy that URL, and paste it behind Acheson's URL listed above so that it follows the "=" sign.

Once you've followed these steps, you've got a working link! The streaming URL for the file is the one that changes, not the URL that takes you to the file's SkyDrive page. Tim's basically gotten the redirect to automatically click to access the file that the SkyDrive link is connected to. This is AWESOME news for us podcasters, as we can now use a full 25GB of space to host audio, video, and whatever streaming media we want! Be sure, again, to ask Tim if you can use his redirect URL, and thank him while you're at it for helping us out majorly.
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Podcast Wednesday - 12/9

Podcast Wednesday's back in effect! This week starts with an explanation as to how to access the new iTunes feed, but then goes on to talk about Office 2010, AT&T data charges, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Soak it all in.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

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Windows 7 Family Pack Out the Door

In a weird, scrooge-like holiday move, Microsoft has "sold out" of their Windows 7 Family Pack allotment, and it will no longer be available new from retailers. The Family Pack, which gave users three Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade licenses, was $150 new, compared to $120 for an individual Home Premium license. This nice discount was set to expire from the start, but it makes you wonder why Microsoft would pull this around the holiday. I can only imagine it's an attempt to get consumers to buy a new system or pay more for an upgrade, but neither sounds like something your average user would be overly eager to do in this economy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Quick Hits - 12/6

Dell Baseball Skins - I try to avoid unintentional promotions on this site as much as possible, but, being a big sports fan, I've gotta put this one out there. I'm not sure how long ago this started, but Dell's line of Studio laptops have the option of being customized with Major League Baseball skins, with all 30 teams being listed as options. There are three designs for each squad, but the "Classic" theme is far and away my favorite.

Verizon's Higher Early Termination Fees - They've got to defend their implementation in front of the FCC by December 17th. Verizon may find it easier to back down from their increase, which was from $175 to $350 for an "advanced device." My guess is that covers any phone that Verizon considers to be a "feature" phone, like the enV Touch, Dare, or Rogue, to smartphones like a Blackberry or Android phone. Their claim that this is necessary to cover the subsidy that results in the lower price of the phone is a bunch of nonsense. There can't be that many customers canceling the second they pick up their Motorola Droid to be costing the carrier that much dough.

Friday, December 4, 2009

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Verizon's HTC Droid Eris Getting Android 2.0

In a move that should make the Eris an awesome holiday gift for any Verizon smartphone user this year, Verizon has confirmed that the Eris will get an upgrade to the Android 2.0 operating system in early 2010. This means that it'll also have the cool Google Maps Navigation that only the Motorola Droid currently sports. At $99, with a buy-one-get-one-free deal going on right now from Verizon, getting this phone appears to be a no-brainer headed into the holidays, especially if you want to get one for a friend or family member. The lack of Android 2.0 was one of CNET's only drawbacks when it came to reviewing the phone.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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Consumer Reports Talks Cell Phones

In the January issue of Consumer Reports, the magazine gives some recommendations as to what cell phones they would recommend for each carrier. The iPhone, of course, gets their nod as the top smartphone on AT&T's network, while the HTC Touch Pro2 and BlackBerry Storm 9530 are picked for Verizon. I'm happy with their designation of the LG enV Touch as one of the best non-smartphones on Verizon. It has its issues, but so does every phone, and not every phone has such a great, roomy physical keyboard.

Verizon also was at the top of the list for customer service and satisfaction. Their number one complaint from their customers was the cost of their service, but I would imagine that may be due to a lack of other areas to complain about. Their data service, as I've mentioned many times before, is way above and beyond that of AT&T's. Speaking of AT&T, they don't rank second in service, but at the bottom with Sprint, behind T-Mobile. T-Mobile, however, is lagging behind when it comes to the network capabilities of the larger carriers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

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Podcast Monday - 12/2

Office 2010, the Verizon/AT&T feud, and Cyber Monday are all topics on this week's podcast. Sorry about the holiday last week, but I promise I'll be back on my game starting today.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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(No) Podcast Wednesday - 11/25

Holiday's messin' me up this week, as I'll be out of town likely until Saturday. Also, since I only mobile update with my Sparty Sports blog, I likely won't be posting on here for the next few days. I should be back this weekend though, so Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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AT&T's Silly "Map for That" Response

AT&T is clearly peeved at Verizon's "Map for That" ad campaign that knocks AT&T's nationwide 3G coverage. The legal battles between the two already resulted in Verizon dropping the phrase "out of touch" from the ads awhile ago, which makes sense. As it pertains to that phrase, I could actually see how some people would think they were literally "out of touch" because there was no voice coverage.

However, AT&T really doesn't have an argument against Verizon's revised line of ads that constantly take swipes at AT&T's 3G coverage area. So, beyond filing silly lawsuits, what does the former monopoly do to strike back? Hire Luke Wilson! Their silly commercials clearly attempt to aim at Verizon's current campaign, but actually fail to address the 3G coverage issue at all. If you're going to pimp the iPhone, as well as the rest of your smartphone lineup, go ahead and simply talk about that. Don't take a shot back at Big Red without having any comprehensive plan of counter-attack.

Apple is sort of helping AT&T out with their own iPhone ads that take clear shots at Verizon's Motorola Droid. That's all well and good for the exclusive carrier for the time being, but what happens when that exclusivity runs out? Maybe AT&T is just hoping they'll have their own colorful 3G map in the summer of 2010 so Apple won't have to come to their rescue.

Friday, November 20, 2009

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Panasonic Plasma - Brightening the Picture

I've owned a Panasonic 46pz85u, a 2008 model 46" plasma, since Christmas of last year. I love the picture, and watch all of my TV, movies, and video games in "Cinema" mode, also known as "THX" on some newer models. Cinema provides the best flesh tones, color, black levels, and noise reduction out of all the display modes. The only issue I have with Cinema in comparison to the other modes is the lack of light output. I haven't personally measured the "Footlamberts," a measure of luminescence, emitted from the monitor, but it can't be that high, even with Contrast, or "Picture" as the panel calls it, turned up to 100.

So, what am I to do when the highest Picture setting in Cinema doesn't produce enough light? Well, I finally found a post that helped me figure out that the service menu can't up the Contrast from an HDMI or DVI source, but CAN change it from an analog source, such as component cables. I'll describe this process briefly for those who either have my model, or one like it, but CAUTION: WRITE DOWN DEFAULT SERVICE MENU SETTINGS BEFORE CHANGING ANYTHING!

1. On your panel, hold down the "Vol. -" button, while hitting "Info" on your panel's controller three times.

2. Once the service menu opens, you will see the setting "Contrast" there, and, if you have a component source plugged in, there should be a value next to Contrast other than 000, and a constantly changing value next to YMAX.

3. Adjust this value using the volume control on your controller. I would not recommend turning this setting up any higher than 10-15 notches above the default setting.

4. When you're done, hit the power button to turn your panel off, then turn it back on.

There you go. I saw a post for service menu access for other models, and know that the "Info" button could be substituted with the "Recall" button on some older panels. Just be very careful when playing around in there, as you don't want to kill your panel.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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Podcast Thursday - 11/19

Got around to it, finally. This week, I discuss the Office 2010 Beta, Modern Warfare 2's sales, a possible move to Wordpress, and why I've been kinda late with the posts and podcasts recently.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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(No) Podcast Wednesday - 11/18

Sorry my friends, but Podcast Wednesday will become Podcast Thursday this week, as I was sworn in as a member of the Michigan State Bar today, so no time to 'cast.

However, in my absence the Office 2010 Public Beta came out of its shell, and is available here. I've got it, but haven't played with it yet. Hopefully I'll be podcasting about it tomorrow after my morning interview.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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Microsoft's Azure - Floating in Early '10

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 27:  In this photograph ...Ray Ozzie at PDC '08
I'm getting sworn-in as an attorney in Michigan tomorrow, so I figured I'd post this tonight while I'm not busy. Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure, is now said to be launching in early 2010. Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie made the call at PDC earlier today, and noted it will be available without cost in January, before becoming a pay service in February.
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Easier Windows Update Access in Windows 7

For those of you who have picked up Windows 7 already, you may have noticed that you can't pin Windows Update to the start menu as you could in Vista. However, I've found a couple sites that mention ways to quickly access Windows Update regardless. mentions a way to actually pin Windows Update to the taskbar, if that's your kind of thing.

However, I prefer the "no tweak needed" access mentioned by a fellow Blogger on Cool Thing of the Day, who mentions you can pull up Windows Update with just two clicks. Just right click the Action Center (flag) icon on the right side of the taskbar, and "Open Windows Update" will be the bottom option! A nice, clean, easy way to access Windows Update compared to the start menu, especially if you've cluttered it with a lot of programs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

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Quick Hits - 11/16

It's a late night quick hits tonight, and here are the interesting nuggets:

Office 2010 Beta - Should be available on Wednesday after it's announced at PDC. It was released to MSDN and TechNet subscribers today (lucky), but the rest of us still have a couple days to wait. I've been using the Technical Preview, and actually the difference that I'm most happy with is the ability to hide the Office ribbon.

Modern Warfare 2 Breaks Records - For my first time touching on gaming for a while, I'd like to give a nod to Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which has gotten rave reviews, and broken numerous sales records since it's release on the 12th.

Microsoft Uses Improper Code - In a somewhat classy move by Microsoft, Microsoft admitted that it used code from its USB/DVD Download Tool from a utility called ImageMaster. It then released its source code, as was called for by the ImageMaster license. A strange gaffe on Microsoft's part, one they may have known about, but all appears to be forgiven.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

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Office 2010 Beta Site

Just thought I'd post it here now so you'd be able to pick it up once it becomes active sometime this week, but here's the Office 2010 Beta website. It appears you'll be able to select from Home and Business (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook and Office Web Apps), Professional (Adds Publisher and Access) and Professional Plus (Adds Infopath, Communicator and SharePoint Workspace).

Friday, November 13, 2009

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Quick Hits – 11/13

Every once in a while, I’ll come up with an article that just touches on some recent news. Today’s the first issue, and here we go:

Verizon iPhone? – We have the Verizon/iPhone talk AGAIN, but this discussion is slightly more descriptive of how things would go down. Apple Insider is noting that there's a dual-mode chip that Qualcomm’s working on currently that could be used for the iPhone. However, it’d probably be relatively expensive, and wouldn’t be available until possibly 2011. When it’s all said and done, it sounds like Verizon very well could come out with a CDMA-only iPhone in the second half of 2010.

Office 2010 Beta 2 Leaks – Neowin is apparently reporting that a Beta 2 build of Office 2010 Professional Plus is making the rounds on various torrent sites. If you ever had the Office 2010 Technical Preview, which I’ll continue to run until the public beta comes out next week, the TP keys apparently work for this build as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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Podcast Wednesday - 11/11

I'm going to start doing weekly podcasts every Wednesday here on the Cold Boot website. Despite my current sickness, I do (try) to touch on podcast submissions to iTunes, Blogger vs. Wordpress, and a few Windows 7 tips and tricks. Soak it all in.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

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Trying Out New Technology

Over the last week, I’ve decided to make a few upgrades to the site. Upgrades that, hopefully, will make it a little more attractive and accessible to those searching for information in the technology realm.

I already had established an RSS feed through Blogger, but I decided to go a little further by using Feedburner. Feedburner, which, like Blogger, is now run by Google, gives me the ability to track RSS subscriptions, make podcasting easier, and add sharing options to my Blogger page. One of the purposes of this post is to test the sharing options, such as Facebook and Digg, and see if they appear at the bottom of this post.

In terms of podcasting, that’s been a bit more difficult. First, it was tough finding file space that allowed direct linking to the .mp3 for access to the podcast. It took a while to figure out how the direct link works, but Windows SkyDrive actually provides a TON of space (25 free gigs), and it’s quite easy to upload files (not folders, however, unfortunately).

After finding space, setting up a podcast through Feedburner was easy, but submitting it to the iTunes Store for availability through their podcast directory has been impossible, literally. iTunes is constantly giving me a “We are experiencing technical difficulties. Try again later” message, despite the feed address working perfectly fine when I manually subscribe to it through iTunes myself. Hopefully I can get that rectified though, and podcasts can be a regular feature here on Cold Boot.

Finally, you may notice that I was able to put up a new address bar logo, also known as a “favicon,” up on the site. That actually takes a bit of manual HTML editing, but the unique site logo in the address bar makes it all worth it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

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My First Podcast!

This is my first foray into podcasting. This first podcast serves a dual purpose, as I talk about both tech and sports as well. I hit on the Verizon Droid, Windows 7, and MSU Football, so enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Using Windows Live Writer – A Windows 7 Experience

I woke up this morning still not feeling great (I’ve had the flu in one form or another for the last 8 days or so), so I thought I’d make a slideshow to music of a recent trip my girlfriend and I took to Leelanau County, Michigan. For those of you not from the Mitten StaWindows Live Writerte, the upper portion of the lower penninsula is generally referred to as “Up North” by us Michiganders, while the upper penninsula is the “UP.”

When deciding to make the slideshow, I realized that Windows 7 doesn’t natively come with an application capable of making such a thing. The application you would see Kylie using in the Windows 7 commercials is Windows Live Movie Maker, and is available through Windows Update. I went onto Windows Update, and also noticed another

application when choosing what Windows Live programs to install; Windows Live Writer.

The description mentioned that Windows Live Writer was primarily a blogging tool, that allowed you to more easily insert photos, videos, tables, and other more “advanced” items into your blog. I went through the simple setup of telling Live Writer about my Cold Boot blog, and now I’m using it to write

this column. It’s more of a test than an actual article, but it seems to be fairly intuitive. I’m not as limited as to where I would like to insert a picture, or what size it’s going to be, and the “preview” tab at the bottom of the program does a great job of giving an accurate portrayal as to what the blog post will look like once finished.

Windows Live Writer doesn’t add a ton over what I have available to me through Google’s Blogger, but it’s just user friendly enough for me to continue to use it for at least the next few posts. It still drives me kind of crazy that there’s no native support for a “caption” underneath a picture (how hard is that?), but there are ways around it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

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Windows 7 Student Upgrade - Not an Easy Path

As some of you may already know, especially considering it's now almost a full couple weeks after release, the Windows 7 Student Upgrade from was not really the easiest of tasks when it came to install. When it comes to "upgrading" an operating system, I always try to get the freshest start I possibly can by doing a clean install. That can be difficult with upgrade media, but I was able to get a pretty spotless install, and here's how.

The main issue I had with the upgrade download was burning it to disc. The download did not come as a disc image, or ISO file, but an executable that unzipped the disc contents to their own folder. This seemed fine, since I just dragged the disc contents to another window to be burned. However, the resulting disc would not boot on startup, and I was left pounding my fists repeatedly against the top of my desk for a good half-hour. How could I get a clean, custom install if I'm forced to install from within Windows XP?

That being the question, I eventually decided to try another trick. What if I installed Windows 7 onto the same partition, my 15 GB C:. as I had Windows XP at the time? Windows 7 was barely too big to fit, but, after deceasing the paging size on the disk, I was able to do the install. This method actually worked fine, as, once the install was entirely complete and Windows 7 booted, the contents of Windows XP were neatly placed into the good old windows.old folder on the C:, which I promptly dragged to the Recycle Bin.

So, that's it! Just thought I'd share another install method with anyone. There were no "dual boot" confusions on startup either, despite the two operating systems still being on the disk at first. If anything, just make sure you really defrag heavily once all that file shifting's over.

Monday, October 19, 2009

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Windows 7 - Thursday's the Day

Just a short post for now, but Windows 7's release this Thursday should be an exciting event for those of us planning to upgrade. Apparently, some in the UK got a little lucky already.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Mossberg Pumps Up Windows 7

He may trash Vista in the article, but WSJ tech author Walter Mossberg enjoys his experience with Windows 7. He mainly boasts about the usability of the operating system, and how it finally gives XP users a reason to abandon the now 8 year old operating system. Despite seeming to be somewhat of an Apple fan, I've never read his articles before, Mossberg mentions he feels Windows 7 beats out OS X in terms of taskbar and window organization, as well as touch features.

The real question, and one that I've felt was answered for me in my testing with betas, was whether Windows 7 was faster than Vista in terms of booting, loading applications, etc. PC World seems to think not, particularly in terms of loading apps. Performance within the applications, however, once they were loaded seemed to improve with 7. I guess we'll all just have to see for ourselves October 22nd.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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Are Apps the Answer for Verizon?

Despite being known for its great 3G and voice coverage, Verizon has struggled lately compared to AT&T with its phone selection and applications. has looked into why the smartphones aren't there, but they also mentioned something briefly that's equally as intriguing.

When Verizon launched the LG enV Touch, the phone I currently use, they repeatedly claimed that it was "app friendly." Great, what apps? All I see everyday are things like the Guitar Tuner and a WeatherBug app I have to pay $3 a month for! The ridiculously small selection makes Verizon's recent price increases for data plans even more infuriating for the consumer. Luckily for me, I locked into my $15 unlimited date VCast plan before they eliminated the option with the launch of the highly touted Samsung Rogue.

One reason for the price increase, however, may be the looming launch of Verizon's App Store this holiday season. Verizon would like to avoid the same network troubles that AT&T's been having with Apple's iPhone, and increasing the prices, as well as placing caps on data may be their way of avoiding it. The App Store is supposed to drastically lower any fees that developers have normally had to pay in order to get their applications on the Verizon network, hence the monthly subscription fees. Also, everyone knows that Java's been a bit easier to develop for than Verizon's BREW, and rumors have it that Verizon may be switching to Java as a result.

The new data caps may take away from the potential for Verizon to make its own footprint in the mobile apps sand, but the removal of subscription fees could push the pendulum in the other direction. Applications for Twitter, which was apparently just released using BREW, but with a subscription fee, Facebook, and Gmail would be great for Verizon feature phones. But hey, you could always just go all-out and pay $30 a month for data on a new Verizon Google Android smartphone, right?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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Windows 7 Student Discount - Tips and Tricks

Obviously this information's been out for a while now, but I'm hoping to add a little bit to what you may have already heard. The website is running a promotion, managed by Digital River, that allows "students" to purchase copies of Windows 7 at a discounted rate. The Windows 7 copies available are upgrade versions of either Home Premium or Professional. Now to the interesting aspects of this promotion:

Trustworthiness - For one, you may be suspicious of the website, as there appears to be little to tie Digital River, or the website itself for that matter, to Microsoft. Things should be kosher, however, because Digital River actually ran a promotion for Windows Vista, of which I was a participant, that resulted in FREE copies of the FULL VERSION (not upgrade) of Vista Business.

Who REALLY can participate? - Next, the fact that only "students" are supposed to be able to participate in this promotion can seemingly be easily worked around. All that appears to be required is an academic e-mail address by an "approved institution." As a recent alum, and also a result of having attended a higher education institution during the digital age, I have an academic e-mail address. Many of you may as well, or you may know someone that does who is also a recent alum, or a current college student. This is a great way to save approximately $80 on the Home Premium upgrade, or a whopping $170 on Professional.

Pricing - Speaking of the price for Professional, I was informed that it may be $39 compared to the $29 for Home Premium, but I have yet to see that confirmed outside of a rumor. The $10 difference may be worth it anyway, but there are differences between the two versions that you may want to take a look at before pulling the trigger, whether upgrading with this promotion or otherwise.

Where's Professional? - Also, in regards to actually ordering the Windows 7 Professional upgrade through the promotion, it's been my experience that it's very difficult to find. I can't precisely recall how I stumbled upon it, but I believe the option comes after you've registered for the promotion and clicked the link e-mailed to you. Once you navigate to that page, there should be an option somewhere for you to go after Professional instead of Home Premium. It's out there, and is well worth the extra effort if the promotion price is the same for Professional as it is for Home Premium.

How is it delivered? - How the download of the product is going to work, or even how it's going to be formatted, still remains a slight mystery. I've heard, and suspected so far, that it will come in the form of a disc image, or ISO file. The website also lists an option to have a physical disc delivered to you, but it'll cost $12. If you've got a DVD burner with some blanks laying around, I'd probably just fire that puppy up, but, if not, the physical media may be worth it considering the deep discount you're already getting on the product.

It may seem simple, but this is, clearly, one complex promotion. If you follow these steps, and consider these options, however, you should be in pretty good shape with your wallet once general availability hits on October 22nd.

NOTE: The student discount offer will run through January 3, 2010.
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Back Again!

Haven't been around in a while, but I've got time to type, so I figured I'd take advantage. I was a law student for the past three years, but I graduated in the spring. I'm still awaiting my Michigan Bar Exam results, but that means I've got time for tech blogging prior to employment (which I'll hopefully attain sometime soon).

As you can see, I've been primarily blogging about the development of Windows 7, and other PC news. So, if anyone who frequents this blog, if there is anybody, wants me to expand my horizons, please comment at the bottom of my posts and let me know! With that said, here we go!

Friday, January 23, 2009

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Windows 7: Overhyped?

Now that I've been using Windows 7 Beta 1 for a couple weeks, I do feel as if I've developed a bit of an affinity for the new OS on the block. However, I really have a hard time understanding this "world beater" attitude that some on the web (and yes, some of them are other no-name bloggers such as myself) have gotten when it comes to Windows 7 compared to its oft-bashed predecessor.

I was also a Windows Vista beta tester, and had the unfortunate fate of downloading, and using on my main computer, Windows Vista Beta 2. Those of you that were also a part of the beta testing, and maybe even some of you that weren't, already know that Vista Beta 2 was one of the worst debacles in Microsoft OS history. I do like to water down the Beta 2 flub by arguing it was simply a beta, and betas can't be expected to be flawless, but, let's face it, Vista Beta 2 was a constantly crashing, ever-incompatible mess that's singlehandedly responsible for frying my laptop battery.

However, once Vista RC 1 was released, everything seemed magically better. The crashes were gone, the UI was cleaner and faster, driver support was improved, and Vista was on the right track. I upgraded my computer to Vista within a couple days of its release, and, outside a couple minor driver issues that have since been corrected, I haven't looked back. I feel like Marty McFly whenever I happen to go back to the future and mess around with somebody's XP system.

Windows 7 will likely make me feel the same way about Vista, but I don't have some overwhelming drive to upgrade like the only way I can save my system from the computer apocalypse is if I do. When it comes to those things people nag on about Vista, and beam about how Windows 7 has fixed 'em, there's usually a pretty easy workaround/explanation for their Vista issue:

UAC: The most popular of Vista knocks, the UAC can simply be shut off. It's not easy to figure out, but it can be done, and a quick Google search will usually suffice for the instructions. Vista might get mad at you for doing it, but, if you hate it that much, you may as well go for the jugular.

Overall Speed: Generally, a clean machine means a fast machine, and Vista isn't much different. Are there sacrifices in speed compared to XP, sure, but not so drastic that it makes me want to yank my hair out. As long as the install is clean, bloatware removed, and startup apps are kept to a minimum (this is where I falter most often), you shouldn't have too many issues in terms of speed with Vista.

Incompatibility: Another favorite of mine. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, people will praise 7 for it's amazing compatibility out of the box. Vista, as of 7's release date, will have the exact same compatibility as its new cousin, but nobody will care. They'll just say that 7 is so much more compatible upon release than Vista, even though Vista really was the OS that did the driver dirty work for the kernel the two OS's are based on.

Edition Names: Who the hell cares!? It's not too difficult to discern between Windows Home Premium, Business (Professional for 7), and Ultimate. Also, for that matter, the feature set isn't exactly radically different, with the main shift probably being Windows Media Center's absence from Business (although the lack of a DVD codec in Business is also incredibly baffling to me). Windows 7 really keeps essentially the same labeling structure, and I don't see any real reason to change it or why people struggle so mightily with what each one entails.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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Windows 7 Beta 1: My Experience

Back after some time off during the holiday, I had a chance to install the Windows 7 Beta on my 3+ year old HP Pavilion zd8200, and here's a summary of my experience so far:

When using the Pre-Beta builds, I had created a 20gb partition upon which to install my test subjects, and that's also where I installed Beta 1. Starting off, I decided to go with the 32-bit version for compatibility reasons, even though I have little issues running x64 Vista on my main partition. Funny thing is, this ended up NOT being the way to go, as I had unrepairable sound card driver issues that caused unbearably choppy video/audio.

So, after downloading Windows 7 x64, I encountered a couple driver issues I figured I would considering I originally had the same problems under Vista x64. The sound card, this time, decided not to work at all, and neither did my media card reader. However, even though Windows Update wasn't able to find the correct drivers, I was able to pull them same drivers I use in Vista over to 7 using my USB flash drive, and, as long as I run in "Disable Driver Enforcement" mode, both devices now work.

Once the driver issues were resolved, I was pretty happy with the overall experience. I enjoy the window preview that brings particular windows to the forefront when highlighted in the taskbar, and the "Desktop Slideshow" feature, which I have set to change wallpapers every 5 minutes, is pretty cool. Shutdown time, more so than startup, is extremely peppy as well.

The only real issue I have with 7 comes in the form of sleep mode, from which it has had a couple issues recovering. The biggest issue here was when it woke up once without recognizing, or even powering, my USB flash drive that had been plugged in even before it went to sleep.

All-in-all, 7 has been a decent experience so far, but I've only used it for a couple days, so I'll let you know more of what I think as I become more ingrained in the interface.

NOTE: If you are also having sound issues with a 2005-2006ish HP Laptop (remember, I have a zd8200) and are having problems finding drivers, follow this link:

Put all the files into a folder where you would keep your drivers on your local hard drive, and then manually install them through the Device Manager in the Control Panel. Also, you can get ReadyDriver Plus, a program to ease your pain when attempting to boot into "Disable Driver Enforcement" mode, here.