Windows 7 quick review

I installed Windows 7 Beta for a few reasons:

  1. Because it’s free! (as in free beer)
  2. In order to test things under Windows and IE8
  3. To get SecondLife / OpenLife which are kinda dodgy on Linux
  4. Just for curiosity because all the reviews have been good

I think Microsoft have done a really good thing here, generating such an interest and making it available to as many people as want to try it. From the looks of things it’s a good release both in looks and in functionality, and they should get a lot of great publicity that should lay the disastrous year of Vista to rest. Plus loads of free testing and feedback of course!

Fear not, i am still a great big Linux fan, and i will continue to use Ubuntu as my operating system of choice. But you know, if Windows 7 is really worth it, i might just cough up the money for the real thing when it comes out and the beta expires.

I followed the instructions here: How to dual-boot Vista with Linux (with Linux installed first) to create some space for Windows 7, install it to the new partition, and then fiddle with GRUB to make the two play nicely together. In fact they did not play together to start with. Windows 7 tried to hide Ubuntu, and then i fixed that, and Ubuntu refused to let Windows 7 have a turn. I got “BOOTMGR is missing” and had to run the Windows 7 fix program on the DVD twice before it came back to life.

Anyway, i got it working now and there are some pretty cool things that have impressed me. This is not going to be a full review; that has already been done by plenty of other people … but here are some snapshots of my experience.

I was delighted to see that it comes with a “United Kingdom” theme, possibly because i entered United Kingdom as my location. How very thoughtful and welcoming! The background changes every 30 minutes with nice scenes from around the UK.

QUICK! Find Antivirus!

The “important message” is Windows 7 anxiously urging me to install a virus checker. Welcome back to the world of insecure operating systems, hah! I have installed the Kaspersky preview for Windows 7 which annoys me with popups every time i try to do anything. Rubbish, hey!

My first piece of feedback to Microsoft, if i could be bothered to give it … the Start button has a spiky highlight. It looks a little bit threatening, to me.

Spiky Start button

Previews are pretty awesome, especially in Internet Explorer 8 where each tab becomes a separate preview. When you hover over the preview, the full-size image appears. It’s neat!

Clever tab previews

The hover colours themselves are actually really stunning! It seems to take colours from the icon, and apply a beautiful glassy effect, for example the Firefox one is mostly orange:

Beautiful hover colours

The ‘show desktop’ now works both as a click and a hover.

Show desktop hover

I’ve already done that a couple of times tonight to have a check on the time and temperature. It’s quite nice that a quick mouse gesture (to the bottom corner) can quickly minimize and bring back again. However, the gadgets are not always visible, which may be a glitch or maybe i’ve just not understood when they show and when they don’t.

Finally, Second Life! I was initially disappointed because Second Life claimed that it didn’t like the video card driver. So i went to Control Panel – Hardware and Sound – Device Manager, right-clicked on my Display adapter and requested an update. Windows 7 found a good one for me!

Second Life working under Windows 7

YAY! :D

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Esperanto

Esperanto and Second Life – a match made in heaven! In Second Life you have a lovely mixture of people from all around the world who want to speak Esperanto and are happy to teach other people. Plus you have this real-time conversation style which, combined with the easy grammatical rules of Esperanto, helps newbies to pick up a bit of the language very quickly.

I have discovered how to modify my Dvorak keyboard layout to include the extended Esperanto keys. On Linux, all you have to do is find your current keyboard layout (for me it is in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gb) and add or replace the following lines:

key <AD07> { [ g, G, gcircumflex, Gcircumflex ] };
key <AD08> { [ c, C, ccircumflex, Ccircumflex ] };
key <AC04> { [ u, U, ubreve, Ubreve ] };
key <AC07> { [ h, H, hcircumflex, Hcircumflex ] };
key <AC10> { [ s, S, scircumflex, Scircumflex ] };
key <AB03> { [ j, J, jcircumflex, Jcircumflex ] };

For me, i simply had to add the lines because the gb(dvorak) layout extends the us(dvorak) layout. This allows you to hold down AltGr with the letter to type the modified version. Shift-AltGr also works.

Nun mi povas tajpi ĝusta en Esperanto! :)

Having fun in Second Life

Oh my gosh, i never realised how much fun — and how addictive — Second Life could be! There is so much you can do there.

I have been lucky to fall in with a lovely crowd of bisexual people, and i am getting on very well with everybody. I am interested in the whole building and scripting process – you can earn money for that. Not just Second Life money, either. If you manage to think of something that a lot of people want to buy, you can make absolutely stacks of money and convert it out into real money! Some people make Second Life a full-time job! I bet i could pick up the scripting quite easily if i wanted to!

But hey, in the meantime i am enjoying meeting people and making friends :D