The First Month of Windows 8

When I was a lad, I wasn’t really aware of Apple. I’d seen a few Macs in the shops, but was always skeptical, mainly because until Windows XP, I’d never had a problem with using it. My first machine had Windows 3.1 on it. You couldn’t do much, play a few games, paint some “masterpieces” and send a fax, if you wanted to. The world was a much simpler place pre-Internet, the 10 o’clock news was the only way I’d find out about what was going on in the world. I didn’t really listen to music, apart from when Dad let me play around with his record player and I was only ever allowed to watch what my Parents wanted to on the TV. Although I was 8 at the time.

I’ve always been a user of Windows, despite all the times I’ve declared to myself that I’ve had enough, I’ve never been able to permanently switch to Linux. The latest versions are beautiful and let you do most things that you can do on a Windows system, but it just doesn’t feel quite right at times. When Windows 8 was released last week, I decided to,¬†belatedly check out the consumer preview. At first I was skeptical, but having used Windows Phone 7 for a few weeks on my Lumia, I decided to take the plunge and plonk ¬£25 on the upgrade.

I’m now just over a month in to using Windows 8 and have to say that I’m definitely in love again. Although it’s definitely built for touch devices, it doesn’t take long to work out that if you use your mouse (or trackpad) wheel you can easily scroll horizontally throughout the full screen apps. If you have two screens connected to your machine, the experience is seamless. I use one screen for full screen apps and then have the “traditional” desktop on the second, larger screen. Of course you can switch between the two simply by dragging the app on to the screen you want to use it on.

The only disappointment so far is with Skype. It looks like it’s been rushed, with lots of the features that are standard on the desktop app not available or not quite working. The automatic integration with Windows Live and Facebook is also a bit annoying when you can get those from the Messaging app. It’s definitely an improvement on Windows 7, but unless you’re in to consuming a lot of your media on your PC, you may not benefit fully from the rather cool new features.

Ten Years on the Internet

Ten years ago, I’d just (give or take) signed up for a Hotmail account and made the jump into the wonderful world of the Internet. I’d been badgering my Dad about it for at least 6 months, having been let loose round my best mates house a few times.

Once we finally got it, I didn’t actually know what to do with it. There was nowhere to go, no one to “talk” to, it was all actually a bit shit. Until I discovered that you could actually make your own websites.

Freeserve (nee Wanadoo/Orange) released 10Mb of web space with their accounts, so I used my copy of Frontpage – probably the only useful thing it could do – to start recreating the websites I’d been trying to make using Word and linking to local files.

Quite frankly, they were pretty rubbish, as you can see for yourself at

Although it taught me a lot about what I now do as a full-time job, so not a complete waste of time.

Have a look around if you like. I’m sure there are plenty more of those sites out there somewhere, although most were on Geocities, so have probably been lost in the ether forevermore.

Another Social Network

Facebook has been a part of my every day life for the past 1421 days (yeah, I looked that up) and in that that time I’ve had a bit of a torrid affair with it.


Although it’s great for catching up with old School friends, looking at pictures and posting inane babble, there are a few things I’ve actually come to hate over the past year or so.

Facebook seems to attract a plethora of spammy “click this to see who stalks you” type apps. We’ve all seen them, they spread like wildfire once one or two of your friends have clicked, and if you have a lot of friends, it doesn’t take long before it’s all you see in your news feed.

Every few days I clear out my inbox which gets so full on pointless updates that it’s getting kind of tiresome. If I’m down to go to your event, you don’t need to send a message every two days in the week leading up to it begging me to come.

Likewise, I’m beginning to realise that most pages are just around for people to spam their wares all over thousands of peoples News Feeds. I bet Villa can get more fans than Blues or if I get 1 Million likes I’ll call my baby Lucifer remind me of school.

Continue reading “Another Social Network”

I am actually a geek

I’ve written about using Linux before, in fact I think there are 20 odd posts dotted around from 2005 about making the switch, only for me to go crawling back to Windows a few months later. In those 4 or so years where I’ve been using Windows exclusively, yearning for enough money to buy a Mac, Linux has come on leaps and bounds.

It used to be that you’d install Linux and then hunt all over the Internet with another computer trying to find wireless support, graphics card drivers and trying to remember how to install something via the terminal. A couple of weeks ago, after Vista had decided to have the last laugh and go completely atomic (remember to back up your data, kids) I decided to make the jump (again) to Linux Mint.

I’ve always been quite curious about trying new things, especially when they mean I don’t have to run a bloated, virus prone, expensive and frankly ugly OS. When you spend 95% of your working day typing code and having to wrestle with Windows wanting to do its own thing, it gets quite annoying very quickly. When I discovered originally use Linux, it was because I was bored – probably after a late night session recording a podcast and not being able to sleep.

I was able to install it, get it to do almost the same things as I could do on Windows and then generally mess around until I missed either a) a decent MP3 player or b) some game that I wanted to play and so I’d go crawling back to Windows. Don’t get me wrong, I owe everything to Bill Gates et al, without them I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

Fast forward a good few years and I’m back to Linux, only this time I’m running Windows XP inside a Virtualbox (virtual machine) that runs as a programme (in a Window) or seamlessly (as if I’ve booted in to XP). Obviously this takes up a tremendous amount of processor and RAM usage, but with my beast of a Laptop I can cope quite well. Now I can hear you Mac users (and maybe some, less/more geeky than me) screaming things like “we’ve been able to do this for ages” and/or “why?”

Sadly, the main reason, is my iPhone. Although you can attempt to run Windows software within Linux using something called Wine, it’s buggy and doesn’t always work. Without iTunes I can’t backup my phone or update it to the latest software. I tied to iTunes and without buying a Mac, I sadly can’t escape that. This isn’t a moan, I just sometimes wish Apple would be a bit more open in either developing for Linux, or enabling other programs to deliver updates to iOS.

More on my trials and tribulations with Linux in the months to come. This time I’m going to aim for at least a year using it, with a little help from Windows XP to sync my iPhone.

Geek, out.