Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vista Pre-RC1

I downloaded and installed the latest and greatest Vista last night. It's supposedly beyond beta, but not quite release canidate material: Pre-RC1. It's a build from the RC1 branch, so it theoretically should be feature-complete, though there might be some more bug fixes that go into RC1. The first big difference I noticed was that my graphics card was recognized and it installed the driver and set up Glass automatically. Ah yes, and that means screen capture is no longer broken.

As you can see, it's trying to install my printer. I was actually able to run the installer for my HP PhotoSmart 1000 (which is no longer supported beyond XP). The install got to the point where it told me to plug in the printer, and I did, but nothing happened, and I ended up having to kill the process. It did leave me with the drivers extracted onto my hard drive, and so I was able to direct the hardware installation wizard to their location, but in the end, the printer still wouldn't install. If I can finally get that working, I might just make the leap to Vista as my primary laptop OS.

This is why you need a fancy graphics card in your computer: new eye-candy features. Alt+Tab still works like before, only now with little previews of the windows, but now there's also Win+Tab. This is the kind of thing graphics cards were made for, and it's nice to see that Windows is finally catching up in this area.

As usual, Firefox and Gaim are among my staple applications. My favorite Gaim plugin, Guifications (which shows little popup messages on certain events) seems to crash Gaim when it tries to display an notification, which is odd, because the same exact setup worked perfectly in Beta 2. I suppose that's what I get for installing a beta version of a plugin on a beta version of an application on a pre-release operating system that's been out in the wild less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Athena's New Last Name

Okay, well it looks like is no longer an option with, so I've had to pick a new domain for my Gentoo box to be under. So, without further ado, the new DNS entry will be:

I've had a long and sordid history with DNS on athena. First, it was, then, then, then, and now this. Each time the domain owner has let their domain expire or withdrawn it from the available pool. You get what you pay for. Let's hope Israel is a better TLD than Belgium.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vista Glass

It's so pretty. I wish I could show you what it looks like. I can try, but all I get is this: I decided to do some looking into the nVidia driver situation. I found out that indeed nVidia does indeed have Vista beta drivers for my graphics card, but when I tried to install, it said my card wasn't supported.

Well, I wasn't going to take their word for it, so I did some more digging (or rather googling, since apparently both terms have developed specialized meanings), and found out that what I needed was a modded INF file with the installer, so that it wouldn't reject my card. I found such a file at, and the driver installed without a hitch.

Finally, I'm running at native resolution, 32-bit color, and using the illusive Aero Glass theme. So far the only thing wrong is that when I try to do a screen capture, the image is garbled as you see above, but trust me, it looks nice. So far the only other hardware issue I've run into head-on with Vista is that my printer, an HP PhotoSmart 1000 does not, and never will work with Vista. The model is no longer supported by HP, so XP is the end of the line. I got it at a thrift store for $3.99 and all it needed was a color cartridge. I don't want to have to part with it just because of an OS upgrade.

Maybe I can hook it up to Athena and I can print over the network. I've never messed with Linux printing. My Bluetooth device (BCM2045) also doesn't have a Vista driver, and there are three "Base System Device" entries in the device manager, which correspond to three of the four functions of my flash card reader. The SD card function works just fine, which is nice, because that's what I use.

Aside from hardware issues, Vista still isn't very stable. The Control Panel keeps crashing whenever I try to open it, and then I have to restart Windows Explorer, which is quite annoying. Another annoyance is when a user program tries to "open file location," i.e., open the folder that contains this file, in stead it opens the file. This happens from Firefox, Picasa2 and Photo Gallery Viewer, so I'm pretty sure it's an OS bug. "Open file location" seems to work fine when right-clicking shortcuts, though.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


No, that's not my Linux box, though for about a day I did have Gentoo installed, and I'll probably make another go at it at some point in the future. I've been pretty busy lately. I'll try not to keep posting just Windows things on a blog that's supposedly about my Linux box. If you'll notice though, the windows_installs directory is hosted on a Samba share on Athena. See, they can play nice together.

I also have Vista beta on another partition on this computer, but there aren't Vista drivers for most of the hardware, most notably it doesn't recognize the screen as a wide screen, so Vista is pretty much a no-go until Dell, nVidia, and/or Microsoft gets their act together on that.

Here's a snapshot of my desktop. The screen is much brighter and crisper than my old laptop. It's actually only 80 pixels wider than my old laptop screen (and 150 pixels shorter), so in some ways it can feel a bit cramped vertically. I think the pixels are about the same size physically. I'm adjusting and experimenting with different ways to arrange things, for example, the icons across the top and bottom are a holdover from my 1600x1200 days. I used to put the web browser just below the top row of icons, but now I tend to put it over them slightly. I'm thinking of moving them more toward the side of the screen.

Gaim 1.5 had a bug that made it crash when signing on to the MSN Messenger service (apparently MSN changed the way they did logins, and it exposed the bug) so I installed the beta 2.0 version of Gaim, and I like what they're doing with it. The new sounds are a big improvement: much less abrasive. They also have a "Psychic mode" plugin that looks like it'll be fun to play around with.... (Note: I have obscured some screennames in case there's a stalker or an IM spammer with an OCR-bot.)

The new computer is quite snappy; it starts up fast, and goes in and out of sleep without problems. The speakers are awesome: in fact, this is the perfect laptop for watching widescreen video on, which I have done. Another nice feature is the built-in card reader. A single slot takes SD/MMC/MS/Pro/xD cards.