I’m Hosting A Windows 7 Launch Party

windows_7_graphicNo, don’t start checking your thermometers to see if Hell has frozen over. Believe it or not, I’m actually hosting a Windows 7 Launch Party. I know, I know. I’ve become quite a Mac Bigot™ over the years, and have not had anything good to say about Windows for a very long time. But things are different now.

I’ve been using Windows 7 on my netbook for a couple of months now, and it works wonderfully well. My company gave us Windows 7 the day it went RTM, and my work laptop has been rock solid since I 86’d Vista and upgraded to Win7. And last Saturday night, my son’s 2006 vintage AMD machine stopped booting. After trying to repair whatever might have been wrong with the XP that was on it, I decided to see if Win7 would run on it. I installed it and it runs better now than it did before. And Thomas loves the way Win7 looks.

I like the fact that it doesn’t BSOD every 2 hours, like Vista on my work laptop did.

So, why am I doing this party thing? Well, when I first heard about it on TWiT, I laughed. A lot of people laughed. But then I thought about it a bit. For doing just a little bit of work, such as inviting friends who probably won’t come ;-), I get some neat collectible Win7 stuff, and a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate “Signature Edition” which, apparently, means Steve Ballmer signed the box, or something like that. That seemed like a fair trade to me.

I have invited several people to the party, but most have not yet RSVP’d. So, I’m extending this invitation to people who know me in the real world, live somewhere near Atlanta, and are willing to drive out East to where I live. The “know me in the real world” bit is very important, as I won’t give my home address to some crazed maniac I only know through the aether. Crazed maniacs I know IRL are fine.

The party is Saturday, October 24 at 8:04 PM. I will have my netbook out if people want to look at it with Win7, and you can feel free to “ooh” and “ah” over it. If you’re interested in coming, email me.

Here’s the text of the invitation that I wrote for houseparty.com to send out in the invitations:

Hey Friend of Joey,

You’re receiving this because I’m throwing a Windows 7 Launch Party. Yes, you read that right: the Mac Bigot is hosting a Windows party. Why? Because I actually like Win7, and I thought it might be fun. (And I get a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate…) If you come, we can stand around my ASUS Netbook or my Dell laptop, both of which have Win7 loaded, and ogle them and their awesomeness, for which there is no charge. There will be a modicum of food and libation, which means Cheetohs and Coke, most likely. ;-) As part of the “party pack” we get Windows7 plates and napkins and such, which will only enhance the joy!

All kidding aside, I hope you can come.

So, if that doesn’t make you want to come, I don’t know what will. :-)

Interesting Date Tracking There, Microsoft

My son was trying to clean up some space on his computer last night, so he was deleting massive amounts of crap. I encouraged him to uninstall anything that he hadn’t used in the last couple of months, but that might be difficult based on the estimates Windows gives of last-use. Check out when the last time Windows thinks he played Halo

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1 eeePC, 2 SDDs, 1 Pendrive, Ubuntu, Win7 and dd – Hoo-wee!

If you’ve ever been here before, you know that I bought an Asus eeePC 900a a few months ago. After buying it, I pulled out the 1G RAM and 4G SDD and replace them with 2G RAM and a 32G SDD. I also swapped a few times between Easy Peasy and Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but I finally settled on the RC of Windows 7. At first, Win7 seemed to be snappy, but as I really used it, it was dog slow. After running some speed tests on the SDD, I discovered that it was pitifully slow, especially when writing, and that was making the system almost useless. I would open Firefox and try to use Gmail, and it would sometimes take over a minute to open an email, meanwhile the drive light was solid, instead of just flickering.

So I took a chance and ordered what looked like a much faster SDD. It shipped on Thursday evening and, much to my surprise, arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. For comparison, the first SSD I bought had these specs:

  • Sequential Read: up to 40MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 15MB/s

By contrast, the new one has these specs:

  • Sequential Read: 155MB/sec
  • Sequential Write: 100MB/sec

You can see a marked difference between the two. When I bought the first one, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, so it didn’t seem like it would be that bad. It was. Now, these numbers are somewhat deceptive in that they are most likely burst rates, not sustained. So while the new drive is capable of hitting 100MB/sec writing, that’s only for short bursts, and won’t hold out over a long series of writes. It’s sort of like a cheetah; it can run extremely fast, but only for short periods of time.

I decided to install it last night, but since I had already installed Windows 7 on the existing drive, I really didn’t want to have to reinstall it, plus reinstall all my programs and reset all my preferences. So I got to thinking, and I came up with a be-you-tee-ful plan. Let me ‘splain.

I have an 8G pendrive that already had the live image of Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it, and I knew that it was bootable. I booted off that drive and mounted the Windows 7 SSD to see how much space it was using and make a copy. Since there wasn’t enough space on the pendrive for a 32G image, I knew that I would need external storage. I brought it up to my office and then got a MacGyvered external drive enclosure and a spare 160G hard drive working with the eeePC. (I say it’s MacGyvered because a few months ago I tore the enclosure apart, removing the existing hard drive to try to turn it into an external CD-ROM drive. That didn’t work, so when I was doing this operation, the drive was sitting on top of part of the enclosure, upside-down, with the cables hanging out. It was ugly.)  I then mounted the 160G drive while booted into Ubuntu from the pendrive, and executed the following command:

dd if=/dev/sda of=eee.iso

For those of you who don’t know Unix commands, dd is a program for doing low-level copies. This command did a full bit-level copy of the entire slow SSD, including all partitions and data, and stored them in a 32G file called eee.iso. (Yes, it’s not really an ISO, but I had to call it something.) That took about 30 minutes to copy the whole drive. I then shut the computer down, replaced the slow SSD with the faster one, and rebooted off the pendrive again. Once it was booted, I remounted the external drive, cd’d into the location where I had put the eee.iso file, and executed this command

dd if=eee.iso of=/dev/sda

About an hour and half later, I had a perfect copy of my original SSD that was bootable, and which Windows 7 was happy with (it even installed the correct driver upon first boot).

I am immensely happy with my system now. It’s extremely fast, and not just compared to what it was. Win7 is snappy and responsive, my programs all work, and I didn’t have to reinstall anything.

And that’s just cool.

OH NOES! I’ve Lost My .emacs File!

I was first exposed to Emacs back in 1991. It took me a while to warm up to it, but I did and I have been using it ever since. Once I started using it on a regular basis, I started customizing it. You can write modules and such for it, but for simple customizations, you can just put them in a hidden file called .emacs in your home directory. As time passed, I would add various changes to my .emacs file, adding convenience functions in Lisp and other bits to make me more productive. As I changed jobs and changed computers, I always made a point of taking this file with me so I’d always have it.

When I switched from Windows to OSX in November of 2006, I didn’t immediately need Emacs, so I didn’t think to copy my .emacs file over. And once I didn’t need the Windows machine any more, I put Linux on it and turned it into a server. But guess what I forgot to do. Yep, I forgot to copy my .emacs someplace safe. I hadn’t noticed it was missing until today. I need to run Emacs for something and when I went to make a change to my .emacs file, that’s when I realized it was missing. I checked my backup drive, which has a bunch of stuff off that old PC, but my .emacs file was nowhere to be found.

Even though I haven’t used Emacs in a while, I need to now, and having that file sure would be nice. But even if I didn’t need to use Emacs right now, I’m still a bit sad to see the file go, since I carted it around for so long. Keeping one file with you for 15 years is quite a long time, wouldn’t you agree?

Chrome Is Cool, But No Mac Version Yet

Yesterday, the internets were all a-flutter about Chrome, Google’s new surprise web browser. Sure, I downloaded it, like everyone else, and I was impressed by its rendering speed. I used it for a few hours without any problems at all. It works with every site I tried it with, and speedily. I’m especially juiced about the JavaScript JIT engine called V8, and the fact that each tab is its own process, separate from other tabs.

But here’s the rub: for now, it’s Windows-only. How can this be? It’s built on top of WebKit, which is Apple’s updated version of KHTML, and both run on OSX and Linux. So what gives, Google? I know they say that there will be OSX and Linux versions “soon,” but how long is that?

I found directions for building Chromium, which says on its homepage, “Google Chrome is built with open source code from Chromium.” So I downloaded all the source code and tried to build it. Here’s 2,000 words about how it went

I guess I’ll just have to wait for the official OSX release.